Coerced Confession: Truth or Fiction?

By Amberly Clark


Police investigation protocols are a diverse and controversial topic. The process meant to psychologically target suspects in order to elicit a confession. However, these investigations have been known to result in the falsification of confessions due to the interrogation of innocent citizens. Detectives have been known to psychologically torture suspects to get them to confess to the truth they believe to be correct. The question that may be drawn from this is: is what they believe to be true really true, and should the way police investigations are conducted be altered to cater to the growing numbers in false confessions? The answer to that question can be debated in many different ways. 

“Now a rare glimpse into police interrogation techniques and the power that detectives wield that can result in false confessions.” This was quoted from Opposing Viewpoints in an article exposing the story of a teenage girl and her baby. Police interrogation tapes showed that the teenage girl  was indeed pressured into false confessions; however, some may argue that police interrogations were built to make you nervous and it is therefore the fault of the suspect for falsely confessing. That its sole purpose is to make you feel guilty enough to want to confess. In this case, the teenage mother, while having not actually committed the crime, was made to feel guilty for supposedly leaving the baby alone without supervision. “The psychological manipulation begins before the interrogator even opens his mouth. The physical layout of an interrogation room is designed to maximize a suspect’s discomfort and sense of powerlessness from the moment he steps inside.” 

This article, from issues and controversies, explains the interrogation process shows that the purpose of police interrogations is to use this method in order to force a confession. But the article before paints the picture of what happens in a case in which a police detective may have gone too far. Homicide detectives are often required to confront the people they question. But in the case of a teenage girl whose baby has been dead for 27 hours, who pleads and cries through much of the interview, her attorney, Ed Ryan, says this is psychological torture. This was stated in an article from opposing viewpoints about a teenage mother and her false confession. There are always two sides to a story. 

While a majority of citizens aware of this topic believe that police interrogation protocols should be altered to lower the amount of false confessions of minors, police investigators argue differently, claiming that “the path to false confession begins, as it must, when police target an innocent suspect…. Once specific suspects are targeted, police interviews and interrogations are thereafter guided by the presumption of guilt” as stated in an article from issues and controversies. 




“How A Teen’s Coerced Confession Set Her Free.” All Things Considered, 2 Jan. 2012. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints,

 Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

(Leo, Richard A. “False Confessions: Causes, Consequences, and Implications.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 1 Sept. 2009, 

(Layton, Julia. “How Police Interrogation Works.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 18 May 2006,


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