Illinois House votes to ban police lying to minors during interrogations

Springfield, Ill. — The Illinois House has approved a bill that could ban police from lying to youth during interrogations – a practice that adds significantly to the risk of false confessions and wrongful convictions.

The bill passed Saturday would still require a final nod from the state Senate and the approval of the governor to become law.

Though few Americans realize it, police regularly deceive suspects during questioning to try to secure confessions, from saying DNA placed them at the scene of a crime to claiming eyewitnesses identified them as being the perpetrator. Detectives also can lie about the consequences of confessing, saying, for instance, that admitting responsibility is a quick ticket home.

Minors, who have been found to be two to three times more likely to confess to crimes they didn’t commit, are especially vulnerable to such pressure tactics, according to interrogation experts.

Though it is currently legal for police in all 50 states to lie during interrogations, Oregon and New York are considering similar legislation.

The Oregon bill, sponsored by a former law enforcement officer, passed the House this week and heads next to the Senate.

A bill still pending in New York would apply to adults as well as minors. There, deceptive interrogation techniques have contributed to several infamous juvenile wrongful convictions, including 15-year-old Yusef Salaam of the so-called Central Park Five, now also known as the Exonerated Five. The five Black and Latino teens were coerced into confessing to a rape they didn’t commit in 1989 and served prison time before being exonerated in 2002.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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