Follow-up False Confessions Post

Photography AdSAfter posting “False Confessions: Why & How” I got an email from Mr. Joseph Buckley, President of John E. Reid and Associates. He wanted to alert my readers to a few things.

  • A technique is a tool and the tool is only as good as the one handling it. In other words: yes, false confessions happen but the technique alone did not extract those words.

This is reflected in this Police Chief Magazine article, from vol. LXXVI, no. 10, October 2009. I quote: “A popular training program, the Reid technique, has been used to educate more than 500,000 law enforcement and security officers since 1974. The techniques taught at training seminars like Reid’s have been the foundation of the police interview process. Frequently, defense attorneys also undergo training in these same interviewing techniques in order to be able to subject the police interviewers to vigorous review and cross-examination.

Although Reid and others have advanced the art of the interview, police agencies need to do more to provide in-house training, thereby capitalizing on the skill and experiences of their own investigative staff.”

  • The Reid technique is indeed used by police to question suspects however, it is also used to find the innocent. Mr. Buckley told me that John E. Reid and Associates collaborates with the New York Innocence Project to actively help exonerate the innocent. An example for that is here: “Frank Sterling is set to be exonerated today in Rochester 18 years after he was wrongfully convicted of murder, according to the Innocence Project, which represents him along with local attorney Donald Thompson. DNA testing implicates Mark Christie. In January 2010, after the DNA testing was complete, Christie met with Potkin and Richard Byington, an instructor for John E. Reid and Associates, the world’s largest trainer of interview and interrogation techniques to law enforcement agencies, and confessed to the crime. Twice in April 2010 he met with representatives for the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office and again gave detailed confessions that included facts about the crime that are not publicly available (including the weapon used to kill the victim).” A more detailed article about this case can be found here.
  • On the website from John E. Reid and Associates you can find more information about their work. Take a look at these eight power point presentations. The presentations range from the application of the technique to what the courts say and of course, a review of many of the statements that false confession experts often make about the Reid Technique followed by an evaluation of the accuracy of those  statements. If you have the time to go over all eight PPP, let me know your thoughts in the comment box below this post.

There are several books with information (as per previous post) about false confessions. I like to highlight a few more:

I hope that this post gives you an even better overview of available literature on false confessions.

Last, thank you, Mr. Buckley, for reading my blog!