A New York Times article discusses the phenomenon of innocent suspects confessing to crimes. In some ways, I don’t think the article is that good. While it describes a few false confessions and notes how police may feed information to the suspect to make a confession look accurate, what’s needed is the kind of vivid description that will make people understand how someone could feel hopeless enough to confess to a crime they didn’t commit.
The upshot, which is mentioned in the article, is that recording police interrogations is essential. Even with recorded interrogations, defense lawyers would face a huge task in defending an innocent client who’d confessed, but without them, it would be almost impossible, even where there’s a great deal of other evidence at hand. Sadly, I think no amount of reporting will change that dynamic.