Police Deception

Respond to the stated question, including any relevance to and implications on the field of criminal justice. Be sure to discuss the issue(s) to which the question pertain(s). Remarks can include your opinion(s), but must be based on experience, research, and/or prior learning. Use this exercise to foster a rich dialogue with your colleagues about issues that are important to the field of criminal justice.

During the span of the discussion, you must post to this board on four unique days.

Your initial posting must be no less than 350 words and is due no later than Thursday 11:59 PM EST/EDT. The day you post will count as one of your required four unique postings.

You will also be required to post responses to at least three of your colleagues’ initial postings. Responses must be no less than 100 words, be posted on at least three unique days, and are due no later than Sunday at 11:59 PM EST/EDT.

4 responses total

Respond to stated question 350 words

Respond to 1-3. 100 words each.

Stated Question(initial response)

Click here and read the article, “Miranda is not the Problem: Police Deception Is,” by Dave Kopel regarding police interrogation. It is understood that this article could be slanted one way or the other, but for the moment let’s agree that the information is true, and if so, what are your thoughts about the interrogation methods and if they violate any ethical principles?

http://www.davekopel.com/CJ/OpEds/Miranda.htm

#1 The Miranda warning notifies a criminal suspect of their rights during police custody or during interrogation. These famous warnings are now known to most US citizens. These warnings were initially emerged from the fifth amendment, which prohibits self-incrimination. This was supposed to prevent criminal suspects to admitting to crimes they did not commit while being pressured under police interrogation.

In today’s age the police use deception techniques to get confessions because these are not coercive and can be admitted as evidence in court (Kopel,2000).

During interrogation suspects tend to confess even though they were read they have the right to an attorney or to stay silent. This seems to be based on the way police interrogate suspects. It starts with the physical aspect of interrogation such as the small isolated room, that you know you are being watched in, which is intimidating by itself. Secondly, it’s the careless tone in which the warning is read to suspects which makes it appears more of a formality than a fact. The environment emphasizes that the interrogator is in control of the situation (Kopel, 200). This can cause many people to feel anxious and nervous even if they did not commit a crime.

Suspects feel pressured to proof that they are innocent which can lead to them to confessing to something that they did not actually do. The interrogator can lie and deceive the suspect to get a confession. For example, claiming there are witnesses that have observed the suspect committing the crime.

I think the fact that the police will fabricate lies and use different techniques to try to get a suspect to confess is ethically wrong. The fact that interrogators go out of their way to exploit the suspects “weaknesses” is also not following ethical principles. For example, they will use someone’s religious background to try to get suspects to confess saying that it’s the “Christian thing to do” (Kopel, 2000).

I also think its unethical for interrogators to use a technique that makes the suspect feel like they can confess to anything, that the interrogator understands and is on their side. It falsely makes the suspect feel like they can “trust” the interrogator and therefor talk when they do not need to say anything.

The entire interrogation process seems to be following very little ethical principles, these deception techniques undermines the criminal justice system. The lies make the law enforcement lose their credibility in court and to the public in general. And it causes too many suspects to make false confessions and admitting to crimes that they are innocent of.

#2 Stating the Miranda rights to people that have been arrested is basic law that is sometimes forgotten in which case some felons get off on this technicality. Yet I believe this law is in place for the very reasoning that officers should try to use techniques to force someone to confess, Miranda rights protects innocent people from incriminating themselves.

After a person has been confined to a small room with no human interaction, blank walls, and left for hours by themselves, people tend to be more inclined to talk to officer thus incriminating themselves and making a false confession. (Kopel, 2000)

The techniques they use are sometimes outright lies, coercive, and leading, I think they are very unethical. The end does not justify the means, in this case techniques to make people confess and say things they wouldn’t normally say. Officers can use the Reid technique which majority of the time can lead to false confessions, this occurs when the officers tell the person they are questioning little details about the crime; now the person will have committed them into memory and will later recall these facts, which could lead them to believing maybe I did commit the crime or that I was there. This leads people to doubt their own memories and sometimes they will believe that what the officers are saying is true. (Gavett, 2011)

So why do they utilize these techniques knowing full well they are riding the line of being called out for using unethical techniques, I can offer a couple reasons. One is officers believe that if the person talks of confess it will lead them to real evidence and they may or may not need the confession if they have clear and convincing evidence. Two they don’t care if they act unethically as long as they got the perpetrator, and they believe they can put them away. Lastly they actually believe that the ends justify the means, if they get the person to confess by any means then they have done their job. No matter the cost, they will ignore that little voice in their heads stating this is actually very unethical and they have crossed the line.

#3 Thinking about the Miranda rights; one might think about protecting an individual’s rights. The Miranda rights were put in place in order to help citizens not get trick correct? Although these warnings are well known, their meaning and the timing of when police are required to provide them can be confusing (Taylor, 2015). These rights can be very confusing if being given by a police officer whom is trying to coerce the supposed criminal into confessing to a crime he or she did or did not commit. Contrary to popular belief, there is no exact wording required for what has come to beknown as “Miranda warnings” or rights. (Gross, 2007) One way of doing this is through different interrogations tactics. In which, some of the tactics, I don’t believe are completely ethical.

Gaining the suspects trust is the ultimate goal in getting a confession but is flat out lying the only way to gain one’s trust? Almost certainly, the prisoner will be told that the prosecutor and the judge will be more lenient if he confesses. This is a complete lie (Kopel, 2000). There is no law against outright lies or other deceptions on the part of the police during an interrogation (Kopel, 2000). This alone could be looked at as ethical and good old fashion “trickery”.

Placing suspects in a certain physical environment is another tactic that is not necessarily the best way to obtain a true and reliable confession. Suspects are often put into a physical environment–such as a small, isolated, soundproof room–which is designed to make them want to talk. (Kopel, 2000). This form of isolation can do more harm them good in the long run, possibly making their confession not reliable in court. Some individuals may just tell the police what they want to hear in order to be let out of the room. Although, not totally unethically seems there could be another way. In the 1966 case of Miranda Arizona, the Court noted that “incommunicado “in-custody interrogations create an atmosphere of psychological coercion, rendering any incriminating statements inadmissible. (Gross, 2007).

Overall, it is obvious that interrogation methods have to be used in order to obtain confessions for crimes that have been committed. But using unethical practices is not called for. Lying and creating an isolated environment is not always the best way, it is possible a false confession will be emerged. Which at the end of the day is not the police officers’ issues; after all they got their confessions.