How far should police go to get a confession? Police detectives have been known to use deception in the interrogation process in an attempt to elicit a confession. For example, Philadelphia Detective Eugene Wyatt falsely told Herbert Haak that his codefendant, Richard Wise, had confessed and fingered him as the actual killer of jogger Kimberly Ernest in Philadelphia in 1995. (A jury acquitted both men in March 1997.)
In another case, detectives lied about the presence of physical evidence at the scene when they told Florida resident Thomas Sawyer that they found his hair and clothing fibers on the murder victim’s body (in 1989, after spending 14 months in jail awaiting trial, Sawyer’s coerced confession was suppressed and he was exonerated).
In both cases, detectives used deception to elicit confessions; should deception not be used in the interrogation process in an effort to avoid the possibility of false confessions? Why or why not?
Are true confessions so difficult to elicit that deception is necessary to help motivate someone to confess? Why or why not?
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