This bill seeks to ban the use of police deceptive interrogation tactics on children. “Deception” refers to the commonly disavowed but still legal form of interrogation where police lie to a child during an interrogation in order to coerce a statement or confession to the crime being investigated. No one, including children, should be imprisoned because police coerced them into a false confession. Police deceptive interrogation tactics have a substantial risk of eliciting false confessions. 23% of Connecticut’s wrongful convictions have involved false confessions.
Protect Kids: Ban Deceptive Interrogations
Senate Bill 1071, An Act Concerning Deceptive or Coercive Interrogation Tactics
What is this bill?
This bill seeks to ban the use of police deceptive interrogation tactics for children under the age of 18.
- This bill seeks to ban the use of police deceptive interrogation tactics on children (under 18).
- “Deception” refers to the commonly disavowed but still legal form of interrogation where police lie to a child during an interrogation in order to coerce a statement or confession to the crime being investigated. Examples include:
- Depriving a child of food, sleep, or other health needs
- Using or threatening to use force against a child
- Threatening the child with punishmentsThreatening to arrest and charge another person who has not committed a crime
- Lying about evidence of guilt, leniency, and the law
- Telling a child about evidence and inducing them to make the evidence part of their statement.
What would we like from this bill?
What we must include to ensure that cops can't lie to children.
- This bill prohibits police from using deceptive interrogation tactics on children when children are in custody and being interrogated by a member of law enforcement.
- This bill creates a judicial check on confessions if interrogators compel the confession by using deception or other barred tactics.
- This bill gives the courts discretion to determine if the confession is reliable based on evidence that the state presents to support it.
- This language is based on laws in California, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon, and Utah, as well as statement admissibility laws already in place in New York.
What can I do to support this bill?
Ready to take action?
In March there will be a public hearing on the bill. Submit written testimony or testify orally in support of this bill. We have prepared model testimony to support baning the use of police deceptive interrogation tactics on children.
Why do we support this bill?
We need to stop police from using deceptive interrogation tactics on children when children are in custody and being interrogated by a member of law enforcement.
- No one, including children, should be imprisoned because police coerced them into a false confession.
- Police deceptive interrogation tactics have a substantial risk of eliciting false confessions. 23% of Connecticut’s wrongful convictions have involved false confessions.
- Deceptive interrogation tactics ultimately harm the people whom our state has made most vulnerable: people of color, youth, and people with mental or physical disabilities. Because of systemic racism, Black and Latinx people are overrepresented in the criminal legal system, including in exoneration databases and in instances of false confessions.
- People of color are more likely to be targeted by police, and scholars argue that cultural biases held by officers lead to more intense interrogation tactics against people of color who are accused of a crime.
- Youth are particularly threatened by deceptive interrogation tactics because parts of the brain that control future planning, judgment, and decision-making are not fully developed until a person reaches their mid-twenties. The Innocence Project found that of the 211 exonerees who were wrongfully convicted as children, 36 percent falsely confessed, whereas 10 percent of exonerees who were wrongfully convicted over the age of eighteen falsely confessed.
- This inhumane practice has cost Connecticut taxpayers at least $37.5 million in state compensation for wrongful convictions and at least $10.74 million in known civil settlements.
- There are human and financial costs of police deceptive interrogation tactics, including when a false confession requires reopening cases, identifying the actual offender, and re-prosecuting a case.
Connecticut stories of wrongful conviction resulting from deception:
Police deceptive practices have harmed people across the state of Connecticut. Learn more about their stories here.
- Bobby Johnson is a Connecticut exoneree who was sentenced to 38 years in prison based on a confession procured by deceptive interrogation tactics. Johnson was wrongfully convicted of a 2006 murder in New Haven. Only 16 at the time, he was interrogated by detectives who lied about having evidence that he committed the crime and said he would face the death penalty if he didn’t confess. Even when faced with ballistics test results and latent print evidence that clearly exonerated Johnson, detectives doubled down on him as their subject, interrogating him multiple times in order to force him to change his coerced confession to fit the new evidence. He spent eight years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.
- Peter Reilly was 18 years old when he was interrogated by police in Connecticut about his mother’s murder. During the 25-hour interrogation, police denied Reilly food and legal counsel and told him, falsely, that he failed a lie detector test, coercing and confusing him into confession. Reilly was sentenced to six to sixteen years in prison before a judge dismissed his conviction.