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The Psychology of False Confessions


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Table of Contents

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 Keflavik Investigation and the First Confession 159 The Investigation and Principal Characters 160 The Disappearance of Geirfinnur Einarsson 162 The Keflavik 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 Keflavik Papers 212 Confessions Obtained by the Reykjavik Team 217 The Reykjavik Task Force 225 Key Task Force Statements 229 Gudjon's Arrest and Subsequent Interrogations 234 Thematic Analysis of the Successive Accounts 238 The Keflavik 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 Schutz'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 Schutz's Foreword to his Book Kleinstadtmoerder: Spur 1081 262 The Der Spiegel 1979 Article 264 Personal Impression of Karl Schutz 266 Conclusions 266 11 The Return of the Gudmundur and Geirfinnur Cases 269 Helga Arnardottir's Telephone Call and the Diaries 269 Meeting With Helga and Kristin 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 Reykjavik 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 Schutz's View of Saevar 334 Saevar's Speech Before the District Court 335 Breidavik 335 Breidavik'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 Bolladottir - 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 Schutz's View of Erla 366 Erla's Interview for the Working Group 367 Models of Erla's Confessions 368 Conclusions 371 15 Kristjan Vidarsson's Memory Distrust Syndrome and Confession 375 Salient Points 375 Kristjan's Interrogation and Confinement 376 Kristjan's Mental State in Solitary Confinement 377 Retractions 378 Karl Schutz's View of Kristjan 379 The Pretrial Evaluation 379 Kristjan's Interview for the Working Group 380 A Heuristic Model of Kristjan'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 Gudjon Skarphedinsson's Memory Distrust Syndrome and Confession 405 Salient Points 405 Deterioration in Mental State 406 The Arrest and Custody 407 Karl Schutz's Perception of Gudjon 410 The 'Lie Detection' 410 Gudjon's Diary 415 A Heuristic Model of Gudjon'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

About the Author

GISLI H. GUDJONSSON, CBE, PHD, is an Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, and a Professor of Psychology at Reykjavik University. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a registered practitioner (clinical and forensic) with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).

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