(The Center Square) – A bill that recently passed in both state legislative houses outlaws the use of deception in criminal interrogations of juveniles and is the first of its kind in the nation.
Senate Bill 2122, which makes statements by juveniles obtained through deceptive interrogation practices inadmissible in court, received support from both Democrats and Republicans including Republican Leader and former prosecutor Jim Durkin, the Associated Press reported.
Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project, says the leading cause of a wrongful conviction in homicide cases is false confessions.
“When we look at false confessions as a problem, we take a step back and say, ‘What’s leading to false confessions?’” she said. “And one of the things that we have really come to understand is when you’re dealing especially with juveniles that the use of deception in the interrogation room really leads to [a] false confession and ultimately wrong convictions.”
Kaeseberg says police are often trained to lie to suspects telling them of fake eyewitnesses or evidence of their guilt.
“When none of that is true, it can really create a mental space where the suspect, especially if it’s a kid, begins to question their own sanity,” she said.
Kaeseberg describes false promises as another deceptive tactic police use to get a confession.
“If you just sign this confession or just tell us what we want to hear, we’ll let you go home, you’ll be able to see your parents, or you know we’ll adjudicate this in family court, you won’t be charged in adult court – when those are all lies can really induce a kid to falsely confess,” she said.
Even the police agree this practice is problematic including the state’s Chiefs of Police and the International Chiefs of Police Association.
“There’s really been sort of a road paved to this moment, and Illinois has really taken the first major step – it’s the first state in the country to pass this legislation – so it’s really historic,” Kaeseberg said.