I’m at a laundromat near my apartment complex. It’s a good time to relax and free-write. This time I’d like to write about a program on NPR that i was listening to on my way to this place. The program was about the confession of an FBI agent who, without knowing, has made suspects give false confessions. He realized that he had done such misconducts so many times. He only found out about it while he re-read a case report. He realized that the reports contradicted the suspect’s confession. He then checked again with the suspect and found that the suspect had made that confession because the investigators themselves suggested the answer.
Then, our FBI agent checked again his other cases, and each time he was confronted with the suspect, he found out that there was a false confession. Her began to realize that maybe his investigation style had made the suspects give false confessions. He began to feel disturbed as he remembered that lot of the suspects that he had interviewed are currently convicts who must spend over a decade in jail.
After finding these shocking bits of truth, the agent then did whatever he could, including reviewing the audio recording of investigations that he had conducted, to find reliable support to his suspicion. Unfortunately he found one only. He then listened to the recording very carefully only to find the confirmation of his own misconducts. In this investigation recording, he found that he had actually fed information into his suspect’s mouth. After hours of investigation, the suspect and the investigator as well felt tired and the conversation took a strange turn. In the part of the recording that was played for the audience of the show we can hear how a silly conversation–despite it’s serious setting– takes place:
“I know what you ate,” said the investigator.
“Huh?” The suspect sounded perplexed.
“I know what you ate.”
“What did I eat?”
“You ate Chinese food!”
And we’re wondering how the investigator knew about the food that the suspect had eaten without any evidence.
Our FBI agent then told us that there were other instances where he asked the suspect about something but told the suspect that the latter must have lied, while in fact the suspect might have as well told the truth. And a minute later, the investigator would feed the suspect an answer, which the latter then confirmed. This answer was then recorded as the suspect’s confession. Basically, the agent said that he wrote the confession that confirmed his prior theory about the case. Thus, without realizing it, he had suggested the answer to the suspect.