False Confessions: Examining What Increases the Odds of Wrongful Conviction




Ohlsen, Sarah

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False confession research identified two important findings: who is most likely to falsely confess and which interrogation tactics most commonly lead to a false confession. It is generally accepted that false confession evidence is one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions (The Justice Project, 2007; Drizin & Leo, 2004). This study seeks to determine if the defendant’s characteristics identified as being related to giving a false confession also increase the odds of a case ending in wrongful conviction or if crimerelated attributes increase the odds. The sample consists of 122 interrogation-induced false confession cases that span from 1971 to 2002 taken from the dataset published by Dizen and Leo (2004). The study used chi-square analysis and logistic regression, finding that while the literature determines that juveniles are more likely to falsely confess, there is no statistically significant finding suggesting that they are more likely to be convicted once that confession occurs. Whereas having a low mental capacity does significantly increase the odds of a case ending in wrongful conviction. Additionally, cases that contain a co-defendant who also falsely confesses or that have multiple charges increase the odds of a case ending in conviction, while age of the victim and number of victims showed no significant findings.



False confession, Interrogation, Wrongful conviction, Vulnerable population