It may seem inconceivable that a defendant would give a false confession, and yet it is an extraordinarily common occurrence. Police misconduct may be to blame for many false confessions, but there are many factors that may lead a person to admit to a crime they did not commit.
The Innocence Project reports that false confessions take place in 24 % of approximately 289 convictions reversed because of DNA evidence. Youth, those with mental health issues, and individuals under the influence of drugs and alcohol are especially susceptible to suggestion and therefore tend to be over-represented in false confession data.  For an overview on false confessions, we’ve provided a few helpful links below:
- Chicago has been dubbed the False Confession Capital by 60 Minutes. Watch the eye-opening program on the cases of two EP exonerees, James Harden & Harold Richardson: Chicago: The False Confession Capitol
- For an in-depth look at police interrogations techniques that can produce false confessions, see this Douglas Starr Article for the New Yorker: The Interview
- Professors Richard Leo and Steve Drizin have an excellent article on the topic entitled: “The Problem of False Confessions in the Post-DNA World” (North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 82, 2004). You can view also view, “False Confession: Causes, Consequences, and Implications,” by Leo without purchase.
- Finally, Frontline breaks down different resources on false confession here: Frontline: The Confessions