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Why would four innocent men confess to a brutal crime they didn't commit? In this clip from "The Confessions," one of the "Norfolk Four" describes the experience of recording his confession. Watch "The Confessions" on air and online Tuesday, Nov. 9. In "The Confessions," FRONTLINE producer Ofra Bikel investigates the conviction of four Navy sailors for the rape and murder of a Norfolk, Va., woman in 1997.
False Confessions: Causes, Consequences, and Implications Richard A. Leo, PhD, JD In the past two decades, hundreds of convicted prisoners have been exonerated by DNA and non-DNA evidence, revealing that police-induced false confessions are a leading cause of wrongful conviction of the innocent. In this article, empirical research on the causes and correlates of false confessions is reviewed. After a description of the three sequential processes that are responsible for the elicitation of false confessions—misclassification, coercion, and contamination—the three psychologically distinct types of false confession (voluntary, compliant, and persuaded) are discussed along with the consequences of introducing false-confession evidence in the criminal justice system. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of empirical research for reducing the number of false confessions and improving the accuracy of confession evidence that is introduced against a defendant at trial. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 37:332– 43, 2009