Crime final.docx - Critically discuss reasons for false...

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Critically discuss reasons for false confessions and the notion that they are a threat to justice. Intuitively, it is obvious why both offenders and innocents alike would refuse to confess to a crime - they share the fear of the consequences administered by the criminal justice system. It is also clear why offenders would confess - at a certain point in the investigation, it is beneficial to provide full and honest disclosure for mitigation in sentence. However, it is more complex as to why innocents would falsely confess to crimes they did not commit. This essay in its two limbs examines the reasons for false confessions to justice and the problematic social attitude towards it but argues that in the modern age of sophisticated institutions and policies, they are no longer the threats they once posed to the freedom of innocents. A false confession occurs where one confesses to a crime they did not commit. ( Kassin et al., 2010) There has been a common misconception that one cannot confess to crimes they did not commit because there is ‘no reason for them to do so.’ (Kassin, 2008) This is not true - many false confessions have been fortunately disproven through scientific evidence and deduction of innocence through discovery of the impossibility of confessor’s involvement, the actual perpetrator or the non-existence of the crime. An example of such false confession is John Mark Karr’s, in which DNA evidence disproved his involvement. ( Edition.cnn.com, 2006 ) Thus, a failure to prevent or ignore such false confessions leads to miscarriage of justice. The defendant is effectively waiving their right to a fair trial and due process by handing definitive evidence to the prosecutor that needn’t meet the burden of ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’( Colorado v Connelly, [1986]) In practice, defense evidence indeed becomes ‘superfluous’ in the face of a confession. . (McCormick, 1972) False confessions could be the greatest cause of innocent conviction. In a 1996 study in the United States, it was found that of all innocent prisoners, 90% pled guilty. ( National Institute of Justice (NIJ), US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs United States of America, 1996) Factors inducing false confessions can be categorized into four groups. Internal factors are those which come from within the confessor, such as desire to protect someone else. External factors are the others that come from other stakeholders, such as duress, coercion, threats of violence, harsh sentence and coercion. Situational factors are those which arise from the circumstances of the confessor, such as isolation, intoxication, and sleep deprivation. Psychological factors come from the mental state of the confessor, such as a feeling of guilt, mental impairment, or natural impulsivity.
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There are three varieties of false confessions. ( Kassin & Wrightsman, 1985) Voluntary false confessions are done freely by the interviewee. These confessions could be due to misleading feelings of guilt, desire to protect someone else, to stop the investigation from going further or for attention. It is mostly internal factors. (
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