On June 13, 2012, I posted a piece about false confessions and how they can happen. https://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2012/06/13/false-confessions-how-can-that-happen/ I made some critical comments about the Reid Technique of interview and interrogation, suggesting that it can produce false confessions. The Reid Technique was developed by, and is taught by, John E. Reid & Associates. Mr. Joseph Buckley, president of John E. Reid & Associates provided a response, and I include it here, with his permission, and without editorial comment. ====================================================
Hi Mr. Locke,
Confessions obtained by the Reid Method fall into two basic categories:
- Compliant Confession – the suspect confesses for a reason. Investigators may have promised the suspect that they will be lenient if he confesses. On the other hand, he may have become so fatigued and upset by the interrogation process that he will do anything to end it.
- Internalized Confession – the suspect begins to believe that he actually committed the crime. This can happen if the person is particularly susceptible to suggestion. It can also happen if the investigator repeats the same scenario so many times that the suspect begins to feel as though he remembers it.
There has been open criticism of the Reid Method, because of it’s ability to produce false confessions, particularly if misused by police agencies. People who are young, developmentally disabled, or mentally ill are particularly subject to falsely confessing as a result of this method. Regardless, it is widely used within law enforcement.
To the contrary, we teach that interrogators should not make any promises of leniency and they should not try to talk a suspect into believing that they committed the crime – these admonitions are well documented in our book, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions, 5th edition, 2011.
We recently posted on our website a document entitled, “Clarifying Misinformation about the Reid Technique” – I have attached a copy for your review.
We are very concerned about false confessions caused by improper police interrogation methods and have served as an expert witness for the Innocence Project (NY) several times (as well as other attorneys), testifying against the police. It is interesting to note that the Innocence Project used us to interrogate a person in jail whom they believe killed the victim that their client had falsely confessed to killing – we obtained a confession from the actual killer – I have attached a magazine article written about the case below.
If in the future you or any of your colleagues have any questions about the Reid Technique, please do not hesitate to contact me.