False Confessions

A false confession is a term used within the criminal justice system to describe a situation in which an individual admits to committing an act that they actually did not commit. These confessions are problematic because innocent people are often sentenced to prison or jail as the result of their statements. There are three types of false confessions: voluntary false confessions, coerced-compliant false confessions and coerced-internalized confessions. Each can be elicited by law enforcement officials in a variety of ways.

As many as 6,000 individuals are wrongfully convicted each year on the basis of false confessions. Some have been historically notable; for example, when Charles Lindbergh's baby was kidnapped, more than 600 people admitted to the crime. In the late 1940s, Elizabeth Short, an aspiring actress, ...

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