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.

Language of the Interrogator as Therapist
Language of the interrogator as therapist

Researchers have been puzzled about why a police interrogation can cause innocent people to incriminate themselves (or appear to do so). A coerced confession is one answer, but laws against coercion are very clear, at least about physical coercion, making promises of lenience, and threatening the suspect. But the law does not deal with subtler forms of coercion, such as pretending to be sympathetic to the suspect, even to the extent of being his or her trusted ally. Whether within the law or not, such techniques are what they are, simple coercion.

Kassin's (1995) research on coercion, noted in Chapter 2, points out that subtle coercive approaches can be just as influential on suspects as ...

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