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The Psychology of False Confessions: Forty Years of Science and Practice

The Psychology of False Confessions: Forty Years of Science and Practice

Gisli H. Gudjonsson

ISBN: 978-1-119-31568-1

Apr 2018

552 pages

$46.99

Description

Provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the development of the science behind the psychology of false confessions

Four decades ago, little was known or understood about false confessions and the reasons behind them. So much has changed since then due in part to the diligent work done by Gisli H. Gudjonsson. This eye-opening book by the Icelandic/British clinical forensic psychologist, who in the mid 1970s had worked as detective in Reykjavik, offers a complete and current analysis of how the study of the psychology of false confessions came about, including the relevant theories and empirical/experimental evidence base. It also provides a reflective review of the gradual development of the science and how it can be applied to real life cases.

Based on Gudjonsson’s personal account of the biggest murder investigations in Iceland’s history, as well as other landmark cases, The Psychology of False Confessions: Forty Years of Science and Practice takes readers inside the minds of those who sit on both sides of the interrogation table to examine why confessions to crimes occur even when the confessor is innocent. Presented in three parts, the book covers how the science of studying false confessions emerged and grew to become a regular field of practice. It then goes deep into the investigation of the mid-1970s assumed murders of two men in Iceland and the people held responsible for them. It finishes with an in-depth psychological analysis of the confessions of the six people convicted.

  • Written by an expert extensively involved in the development of the science and its application to real life cases
  • Covers the most sensational murder cases in Iceland’s history
  • Deep analysis of the ‘Reykjavik Confessions’ adds crucial evidence to understanding how and why coerced-internalized false confessions occur, and their detrimental and lasting effects on memory

The Psychology of False Confessions: Forty Years of Science and Practice is an important source book for students, academics, criminologists, and clinical, forensic, and social psychologists and psychiatrists.

About the Author xv

Series Preface xvii

Preface xxi

Acknowledgements xxv

Icelandic Names xxvii

Introduction 1

A Brief Review of my Cases on Disputed Confessions (1980–2016) 3

The Structure and Content of the Book 4

The Gudmundur and Geirfinnur Cases 6

Part I: The Emerging Science and Practice 9

1 An Era of Enquiry and Development 11

My Early Research on Lie Detection 13

The Sunday Times Experiment 18

British Psychological Society Committees on Lie Detection 20

Onward and Upward 22

Conclusions 24

2 The Impact of Real]Life Cases on Legal Changes, Police Practice, and Science 27

The Confait Case 28

The Guildford Four 31

The Birmingham Six 35

The Tottenham Three (Engin Raghip) 37

The Case of Judith Ward 38

The Cardiff Three (Stephen Miller) 39

The PEACE Model of Interviewing 45

Summary and Conclusions 48

3 Interrogative Suggestibility 51

The Experimental Approach 52

The Individual Differences Approach 54

The Gudjonsson and Clark Model 59

Conclusions 61

4 The Psychology of False Confessions: The Theories 63

Definitions of False Confession 64

An Early Conceptual Framework 64

The Kassin and Wrightsman Threefold Classification 66

Critique of the Kassin–Wrightsman Classification 68

Key Components That Elicit and Facilitate the Internalization Process 73

Memory Distrust Syndrome 74

The Five Sequential Steps 77

Immediate Versus Delayed Suggestibility 81

A Heuristic Model of Internalized False Confessions 82

Conclusions 85

5 The Development of the Science: The Evidence Base 87

Brief Summary of Theoretical Developments 88

Landmark Early Studies on Police Interrogation 97

False Confessions in Miscarriages of Justice Research 99

Rate of Interrogation, Base Rate of Guilt, and False Confessions 103

Type of Offence Falsely Confessed To 108

Reasons Given for the False Confession 110

‘I’d Know a False Confession if I Saw One’ 113

Risk Factors 114

Situational Risk Factors 117

Personal Risk Factors 124

The Psychological Effects of Interrogation 134

Conclusions 134

Part II: The Gudmundur and Geirfinnur Cases 139

6 Icelandic Society in the 1970s 141

Brief History and Landscape 141

The Constitution and Government 144

The Police 145

The Courts 148

Prisons 149

Drug Abuse Problems and Smuggling 150

Media Frenzy 152

Homicide in Iceland 153

Conclusions 157

7 The Keflavík Investigation and the First Confession 159

The Investigation and Principal Characters 160

The Disappearance of Geirfinnur Einarsson 162

The Keflavík Investigation Into Geirfinnur’s Disappearance 163

The First Confession to Geirfinnur’s Disappearance 170

Conclusions 174

8 The Confessions in the Gudmundur Einarsson Case 177

The Post and Telecommunication Fraud 178

The Disappearance of Gudmundur Einarsson 182

The Gudmundur Einarsson Investigation 184

The Confessions to Gudmundur Einarsson’s Murder 186

Thematic Analysis of the Successive Accounts 205

The Supreme Court’s Version of the Facts in the Gudmundur Einarsson Case 208

9 The Confessions in the Geirfinnur Einarsson Case 211

The Prosecution Request for the Keflavík Papers 212

Confessions Obtained by the Reykjavík Team 217

The Reykjavík Task Force 225

Key Task Force Statements 229

Gudjón’s Arrest and Subsequent Interrogations 234

Thematic Analysis of the Successive Accounts 238

The Keflavík Slipway Re]enactment 240

The Overlap with Gudmundur Agnarsson’s ‘False’ Confession 241

The Press Conference: The Official Version of What Happened 243

The Convictions 247

Conclusions 249

10 Misguiding Force 253

Karl Schütz’s Professional Background 254

The Spiegel Investigation 254

The Murder of Four Soldiers in Lebach 255

The Baader]Meinhof Group 256

Appointed to the Case 258

Camera Shy 260

The Cartoons and Legal Action 261

The ‘Indian Technique’ 262

Schütz’s Foreword to his Book Kleinstadtmörder: Spur 1081 262

The Der Spiegel 1979 Article 264

Personal Impression of Karl Schütz 266

Conclusions 266

11 The Return of the Gudmundur and Geirfinnur Cases 269

Helga Arnardóttir’s Telephone Call and the Diaries 269

Meeting With Helga and Kristín 271

The Content of the Diaries 272

The Filming 276

A Call From the Minister of the Interior 276

Conclusions 277

12 The Findings From the Working Group, Special Prosecutor, and Icelandic Court Cases Review Commission 279

The Working Group 282

The General Findings of the Working Group 287

The Findings From the Psychological Evaluation 289

The Testimony in the Reykjavík District Court 291

The Findings of the Icelandic Court Cases Review Commission 298

Ragnar Adalsteinsson’s Letter to the Special Prosecutor 325

Conclusions 326

Part III: A Psychological Analysis of the Confessions of the Six Convicted Persons 329

13 Did Saevar Ciesielski Have Undiagnosed ADHD? 331

Salient Points 331

Saevar’s Interrogation 332

Retractions 333

Karl Schütz’s View of Saevar 334

Saevar’s Speech Before the District Court 335

Breidavík 335

Breidavík’s Public Enquiry 337

Yes, Saevar Did Have Undiagnosed ADHD 338

Evidence Supportive of ADHD During Childhood and Adolescence 340

The Pretrial Psychological/Psychiatric Evaluation 344

The Impact of Saevar’s ADHD on His Functioning During the Cases 345

Was Saevar Coerced to Implicate Innocent People? 347

The ‘Real]Life’ Lie Detector Test 349

Conclusions 352

14 Erla Bolladóttir – A Vulnerable Young Woman 355

Salient Points 355

The Relationship with Saevar 358

Erla’s Interrogation 360

Erla’s Attempts to Retract Her Confessions 364

The Pretrial Psychiatric Evaluation 364

Karl Schütz’s View of Erla 366

Erla’s Interview for the Working Group 367

Models of Erla’s Confessions 368

Conclusions 371

15 Kristján Vidarsson’s Memory Distrust Syndrome and Confession 375

Salient Points 375

Kristján’s Interrogation and Confinement 376

Kristján’s Mental State in Solitary Confinement 377

Retractions 378

Karl Schütz’s View of Kristján 379

The Pretrial Evaluation 379

Kristján’s Interview for the Working Group 380

A Heuristic Model of Kristján’s Confession 381

Conclusions 383

16 Tryggvi Leifsson’s Memory Distrust Syndrome and Confession 385

Salient Points 385

History of False Confession? 386

Evidence for Memory Distrust Syndrome 387

Tryggvi’s interrogation and confession 387

Tryggvi’s Diaries 393

Did Tryggvi Have ADHD? 394

A Heuristic Model of Tryggvi’s Confession 395

Conclusions 398

An interview with Tryggvi’s widow and daughter 400

17 Gudjón Skarphédinsson’s Memory Distrust Syndrome and Confession 405

Salient Points 405

Deterioration in Mental State 406

The Arrest and Custody 407

Karl Schütz’s Perception of Gudjón 410

The ‘Lie Detection’ 410

Gudjón’s Diary 415

A Heuristic Model of Gudjón’s Confession 420

After Release From Prison 422

Conclusions 423

18 Albert Skaftason’s Memory Distrust Syndrome and Confession 425

Salient Points 425

Albert’s Interrogation 427

Memory Enhancement 428

Albert’s Account of Events, and His Personality 429

A Heuristic Model of Albert’s Confession 432

Conclusions 435

Conclusions 437

Science and Practice – the Beginning 437

The Development of the Science 439

The Gudmundur and Geirfinnur Cases 446

Lessons Learned 462

Appendix 1 465

Appendix 2 471

References 477

Author Index

Subject Index