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January 2009 -- (US)

The Plight Of The Innocent

Interrogation Techniques: Why the Innocent Confess

By by Stella Kaye

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive


The plight of the innocent, when it comes to interrogation techniques and subsequent injustices done in the name of justice is far worse than that which the guilty have to endure.

In the UK the Criminal Justice System is geared up to securing convictions and gaining confessions at whatever level. If the police, the Crown Prosecution Services and the Prison and Probation Services can get an innocent person to part with their innocence by whatever tactics they choose then justice will be seen to be done, and the general public will feel safer now a "Criminal" is no longer at large. The one thing that none of these official bodies concern themselves with is the truth. The innocent have no rights at all and are often viewed as guilty by accusation alone.

For instance if you are an innocent man falsely accused and you escape abroad choosing to flee from justice people will say: "It's because he's guilty." If you hang yourself people will say "It's because he was guilty." If you stand and fight for your innocence in the law courts, you will be given the very basics of defence on legal aid funding so unless you are wealthy or have rich friends the scales of justice are already weighed against you. When you lose your case people will say it again: "It's because he was guilty." -- after all twelve good people on the jury could not have been wrong -- never mind that the evidence placed before them was all lies and you were denied a fair trial,

Then in prison you will be viewed as being "In denial." Innocence has now become a dirty word and must never be uttered let alone protested, because the Criminal Justice System just does not make mistakes... or so they lead the masses to believe.

From initial arrest, a suspect is treated unfairly, in order to wear them down and get them to confess. It makes life easier for all the officials involved if the accused admits guilt. They can all go home early, a job well done. If a suspect readily admits guilt they will be treated decently from then on but the innocent will be bombarded with officials descending on them, clipboard in hand, in order to get them to confess to crimes that never happened.

"Admit guilt and you will get a lighter sentence."

"Admit guilt and you will get certain privileges."

"Admit guilt and you will be allowed more phone calls."

"Admit guilt and we will send you to a better prison."

Everything is a ploy to get the innocent to confess.

You could be left in a cell for hours without food or drink, the level of persuasion quite subtle or the tactics could be intimidating or even physically brutal.

I used to think that no one could ever get me to confess to things I hadn't done -- they would have to rip my heart out first but if you are so deprived of sleep, worn down by continual verbal bombardment of people who hold ultimate power over you with real threats of violence it is quite possible for an innocent person to confess to anything just so the pain, emotional and otherwise, will cease. The innocent will confess when interrogation is intensive and there is no realistic way of ever proving their innocence. They find they have been painted into a corner by the very system that should have defended them.

The following paragraphs are genuine extracts from a letters written by an innocent man who is currently serving an indeterminate sentence for crimes he did not commit. He had no alternative but to admit guilt or he would never even face the prospect of release. On an indeterminate sentence in the UK it is possible to be detained for up to 99 years if the prisoner does not admit guilt and accept treatment, so what hope for the innocent? They are faced with a bureaucratic nightmare!

"I have felt under terrible pressure to admit guilt and responsibility for my "Offences" or I will never get out. I have not slept for days and am very depressed. A quite uncompromising officer saw me this morning and I have signed my innocence away. I do not know any other way forward. I feel like I am going mad and losing my grip on what is real and true. I am going to get counselling. There was never going to be any money for a successful appeal and there is no hope of ever proving my innocence. I've been worn down by the system. I am not a great man, like one of those who maintains innocence for long years and is willing to give up his whole life for it. Right now I feel weak and pathetic and broken but there is nothing I can do."

"I signed papers acknowledging guilt saying I will do the offender treatment programmes. If I do not do this I will never get out on an indeterminate sentence. Nobody "On the out" knows what pressure I have been under, the uncompromising discrimination of the system, the threats, personal and institutional, the intimidation, (WORD BLANKED OUT), coercion and casual callousness. It has broken me. I am ashamed and humiliated. I wish I could be stronger to be willing to pay the price and give up everything for the truth. It will look for all the world that I am guilty, not even protesting my innocence."

"Part of me has died inside. I wish I didn't have to continue. I keep thinking of the Judge and his words and I have signed my life over to such idiotic judgements of me and my spirit feels crushed."

"I have not been able to speak to anyone I love over the phone or really turn to anyone who cares in anything more than in an impersonal way. This is how they crush people by giving them no genuine recourse. I cannot even write or ring without all being routinely monitored. How can I speak my heart to unsympathetic and possibly hostile strangers? Even now as I write I am aware of Big Brother leering over my shoulder and analysing every line. How can I endure through the years to come? I am almost without hope. Only a little remains.

"In the eyes of the law I am guilty. In the eyes of strangers -- guilty. Those who know me and love me know otherwise."

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