From a linguistic perspective, this book is a practical explanation of how confessions work. Roger Shuy, author of the 1993 benchmark work, Language Crimes, examines criminal confessions, the interrogations that elicit confessions, and the deceptive language that plays a role in the actual confession. He presents transcripts from numerous interrogations and analyzes how language is used, how constitutional rights are not protected, and discusses consistency, truthfulness, suggestibility, and written and unvalidated confessions. He also provides specific advice about how to conduct interrogations that will yield credible evidence.

Confession Event
Confession event

The therapeutic effect of confession was drilled into me when I was a little boy. My mother attended an independent Bible church and made sure the basic tenets of Fundamentalist Christianity permeated my life. The theology of forgiveness required a preceding confession in the harsh reality of that world because unless we were forgiven, we faced a pretty dim prospect in the next life. The three-step process was to confess, be forgiven, and avoid punishment.

For the kinds of sins perpetrated by boys in the course of daily living, this process worked pretty well. I did something bad, confessed it to God in prayer, and felt a whole lot better about my chances of avoiding the eternal damnation of hell's fire. Whatever one ...

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