Truths & Confessions
Getting tough on crime and the politics of interrogation
How many hours do you think it takes to get the truth as opposed to a confession? Ever wonder how many hours, days individuals are questioned before confessing to acts they never committed? What happens when the right to remain silence is exercised?
I asked a few political hopefuls to address the issue of time limits on interrogation. After a few hours, bits and pieces of information about a scene where a crime has taken place, not having basic needs met, how long will it take the average person to confess? I have never heard a lawyer ask about the length of time it took to get a confession or the conditions under which the confession was given. What is the rate of exchange for a confession?
The truth is gathered with evidence. Months of investigations can go by while the person of interest is walking around without confessing to anything. Yet, an individual who fits the profile of… or is in the area of… remains in custody being questioned as long as they are willing to speak. According to one source, “that one phone call is given when police are ready.”
Remaining silent may increase the incarceration time and more questioning. Lawyers may get the call from a client and by the time the lawyer arrives, their client may be unable to be found. Has the truth been reached by this time? Hardly!
Individuals may be questioned upwards 20 plus hours, fed information, viewed documents, and given so many stories that confusion sets in. The confession becomes a manipulated rendition of fractured facts. That is very far from truth. Yet, this is the how prisons are filled. It’s how people are named by friends and acquaintances even if they were out of town when events occurred.
So, I ask, should there be a time limit placed on interrogations? How many people does it take to interview an individual? If it cannot be done within 3 hours, maybe the skill sets are not there, or the person in custody is telling the truth. Prolonging the questioning will create the impression that the stories are changing, a presumed guilt, or an untruthful confession.
Maybe the reason politicians don’t feel the need the address time limits on questioning is because to get tough on crimes may mean getting tough about the way citizens are questioned. The criminalization of citizens may be too much of a reality for constituents who finance campaigns. But then too, how many cities thrive from the economic boom a prison population provides? If a seated candidate addresses the get tough on crime policies, begins investigating the interrogation process, will their career be over?
Election year or not, it is imperative for all of us to raise questions that are sometimes uncomfortable to face.