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.

Unvalidated Confession
Unvalidated confession

So far, we have discussed interrogations and confessions that had videotaped, audiotaped or, some semblance of notes or other records available for trial. The issue is verifiability. If the interrogators wish to validate that their procedures of interrogating were fair and that they followed accepted guidelines, then some sort of record must be produced. Such available record keeping includes

  • ▸ Videotape
  • ▸ Audiotape
  • ▸ Stenographic record
  • ▸ Detailed notes

The most useful method of validating and preserving a record is the videotape because it offers the most information. Videotaping, if done properly and effectively, displays nonverbal as well as verbal information. People can say words and sentences that convey one meaning, but when the same speech is captured on videotape, the nonverbal communication can suggest a somewhat ...

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