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Confessions and Convictions How Varying Types of Confessional Evidence Affect Conviction Rates James Gentry and Jared Smith Hanover College.

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Presentation on theme: "Confessions and Convictions How Varying Types of Confessional Evidence Affect Conviction Rates James Gentry and Jared Smith Hanover College."— Presentation transcript:

1 Confessions and Convictions How Varying Types of Confessional Evidence Affect Conviction Rates James Gentry and Jared Smith Hanover College

2 Strength of Confessions Individuals on a jury are more likely to convict on the basis of a confession than any other piece of evidence (Wakefield & Underwager, 1998). Confessions are considered extremely powerful in obtaining convictions  Kassin, S. M. (1997).  Kassin & Neumann (1997).

3 Impact of Confessions Much controversy has stemmed from a rise of false confessions gained through questionable interrogation tactics used by authorities in the solicitation of a confession (Kassin & Sukel, 1997). Harmless Error Rule  Kassin & Sukel (1997).

4 Types of Confessions Voluntary confession Retracted confession Coerced compliant false confession  Solicited via interrogation tactics Coerced internalized false confession  Attained via victim’s internalization of crime Kassin, S. M., & Gudjonsson, G.H. (2004).

5 Research Question This study was conducted to discern what type of confession evidence yields the highest rate of conviction when presented to a sample of potential jurors.

6 Hypothesis It was hypothesized that of the four types of confession evidence, that the self confession will yield the highest conviction rate, whereas the false internalized confessions will yield the lowest rate of conviction.

7 Methods: Participants Participants recruited via the internet and completed study through Psychological Research on the Net (Krantz, 2008) N = 252 (F-158, M-94)  After 15 responses eliminated Median Age - 24 Ages 18-62

8 Similarity of IV Across Conditions Battery Crime Accused and victim remained constant across conditions Confession was same across conditions Approximate length of transcript

9 Voluntary confession On the night of Dec. 15 th 2006… Mr. Lemke was arrested at his residence for allegedly beating his wife… Mr. Lemke’s interrogation by the Jefferson County police lasted just under an hour before he broke down and voluntarily confessed to the crime. Mr. Lemke admitted in his voluntary statement: “I did it. I just wanted her to stop! I’m so sorry. I never meant for this to happen...”

10 Retracted confession After having confessed to the crime however, Mr. Lemke decided to retract his “guilty” plea made on the 15 th, to a plea of “not guilty” on the 22 nd of the same month. To explain his decision he stated he was in shock at the time of his arrest and that he was not in the right state of mind to make a plea of guilty. In retrospect he is certain that though he and his wife did argue that night, he did not beat her.

11 Coerced compliant false confession Mr. Lemke’s interrogation by the Jefferson County police lasted three hours before he finally confessed to the crime. During the interrogation process, police told Mr. Lemke that they had tangible DNA evidence that directly linked him to the crime. They told him that if he did not confess, he would receive a much harsher sentence. It should be noted however, that the police did not in fact have any such evidence. Soon after hearing about the evidence, Mr. Lemke admitted in his voluntary statement:

12 Coerced internalized false confession At first, Mr. Lemke was very adamant about his plea of not guilty. However, after being confined in the interrogation room for nearly 32 hours and being asked the same questions over and over, Mr. Lemke finally broke down and confessed to the crime. By this time Mr. Lemke truly believed that he had indeed committed the crime.

13 Methods: Procedure Consent form then instruction form Sample confession Conviction Stage Punishment Stage  0-1 year; 2-5 years; 6-10 years; years; years Demographic questionnaire Debriefing

14 Conviction Rate Across Conditions x²(3, N = 252) = 13.8, p <.001

15 Means of Punishment F(3, 252) = 1.454, n.s.

16 Main Effect of Gender on Punishment F(1, 252) = 4.295, p =.039

17 Discussion The results of this study indicate the power of confession evidence in relation to conviction rates. Hypothesis was basically supported Females assigned harsher punishments than their male counterparts

18 Limitations and Future Directions Manipulate variables within transcript Manipulate length of transcript Manipulate gender of crime

19 Questions ?


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