nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,


Interview about two methods of interrogation, an honest meticulous method and the method in common use in the US.

Douglas Starr compares the Reid technique with the PEACE technique.

Reid is a method of getting confessions-- once the police officer decides (on very little evidence) that the suspect is guilty and ignores all denials. If you suspect you are being subject to the Reid method, try arguing vociferously for an hour-- this may be taken as evidence of innocence. Reid uses people's impulse to be nice and cooperative against them. Reid gets false confessions.

Hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide, have been trained to use the Reid technique.

A major part of the Reid technique's reputation was based on getting what turned out to be a false confession.

There's a description of research which find that people (including police) are just plain bad at detecting lies-- and do worse if they focus on body language.

PEACE is a long, dull, open-ended cognitive grind-- an effort to elicit memories and find out whether the details make sense.

I get the impression that trained US military interrogators (not the folks at Abu Graib) use something of the sort.

It's tempting to me to hear about something like the Reid technique and then hate and despise everybody, but the truth is that suspicion of the Reid technique got started when a researcher noticed that confession was a common feature in convictions which got overturned, and scientists looked at it and found that its premises about lying and anxiety weren't sound. The British government developed the PEACE technique after a series of false confession cases. There has been institutional pushback against Reid.

After reading a lot about false confessions, I'd come to the conclusion that confession simply shouldn't be part of the judicial process. However, I also thought that the idea was so radical it couldn't get a hearing. It turns out that the British have given up on using confession-- it's physical evidence or nothing for them.

Unfortunately, the NPR transcript is just highlights, and the New Yorker article it's based on is behind a pay wall. I think hearing the whole interview is worth spending a half hour.

Two accounts of the police getting false confessions: American and Canadian

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