The Frontline documentary, The Confessions (2010), tells the story of the Norfolk Four; four innocent men who were ultimately convicted of the rape and murder of Michelle Bosko. As horrendous and appalling as Michelle Bosko’s murder was, that was not the most shocking point of the film. More astonishing is the fact that four innocent men were convicted of the crime with the help false confessions obtained by the police investigating the case. This despite the fact that police and prosecutors had physical evidence and testimony from the real murderer that pointed to the innocence of the Norfolk four.
Although, the documentary primarily focuses on the coercive police interrogation methods used by Detective Maureen Evans and Detective Robert Glenn Ford, some responsibility has to also be placed on the court system. The tactics used by the police while investigating the murder and rape of Michelle Bosko were coercive; the men claim they were interrogated for hours, threatened with the death penalty, and lied to in order to obtain the confessions. One of the men, Derek Tice, claims that while being questioned by the police he asked to speak to a lawyer only to have his request ignored a clear violation of his rights. Original suspect, Danial Williams, describes being questioned for eight hours by Detective Evans only to have Detective Ford brought in when Evans attempts to obtain a confession fail. With the use of such interrogating tactics each of the men confesses to the crime. When inaccuracies in their statements were found, such was the case in Danial Williams’ original confession when he claims that he beat Ms. Bosko with a shoe, the police interrogate him again nudg...
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...ction.” (Leo, 2009) Leo also concludes by offering several suggestions in order to help minimize false confessions. Some of the suggestions outlined included: mandatory electronic recording of police interrogations, time limits on interrogations, prohibiting certain interrogation methods, pretrial reliability hearings, and “…providing safeguards for vulnerable populations such as the developmentally disabled and juveniles.” (Leo, 2009) In all likelihood if these precautions had been taken while interrogating the Norfolk Four would not have been convicted. Had a time limit and mandatory recordings for the entirety of the interrogations it’s likely that they would have never elicited false confessions from these men. As such more such cases come to light perhaps suggestions such as this will be implemented and stopping future miscarriages of justice such as this one.
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