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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why do innocent people confess to crimes they didn't commit?

Just because someone confesses to a crime, it doesn't necessarily mean they actually did it -- that's the upshot of a new study from a University of Virginia law professor, who's researched several cases where a person confessed, did time ... and was eventually exonerated, the New York Times reports.

How does this happen? Well, the study blames "contamination" -- where police either intentionally or accidentally introduce details about the crime during interrogation. So, when the suspect "confesses," their story is more convincing because they can repeat details they've already heard.

Here's the paragraph that jumped out at me:

Eight of the defendants in Professor Garrett’s study had actually been cleared by DNA evidence before trial, but the courts convicted them anyway.

The Times story mentions the case of Eddie Lowery, who was convicted in Riley County. He wasn't cleared until after he served his time. He got $7.5 million in a settlement. He now lives in the Kansas City area.

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