If you have watched the Netflix series ‘Making A Murderer’, then you have every reason to put a big fat smile on your face. Because this Friday the District Court of Milwaukee has retracted the sentence of Brendan Dassey. Now aged 26 years, he was accused of helping his uncle murder and rape a 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach whose remains were found in a bonfire.
Dassey, whose IQ is on borderline deficiency and attended special classes before he was accused of the crime, was given a life imprisonment sentence at the age of 17, with a possibility of parole in the year 2048.
In a sudden turn of events, Magistrate Judge William Duffin has ordered Dassey’s release as there was no physical evidence to back his involvement and the primary evidence used in the case was his video recorded confession to investigators.
Everything got messed up when the investigators used the Reid Technique to elicit a false confession from the boy.
Reid Technique is a method of interrogation which involves psychological stress and coercion of the interviewee. The investigator drives the suspect into a corner by false allegations, guaranteeing an adverse outcome for the suspect. This ordeal may continue for hours while the interviewee is mentally cornered.
Then the investigator creates a loophole for the suspect, telling the person that doing or saying such and such can liberate you. This usually involves making suspect/interviewee repeat after the investigator, and these recited lines are generally the confession of a crime which the suspect never even committed, under the impression that saying such things will not harm the interviewee in any way. Only after the session is over, the now guilty realizes what has transpired.
This technique is especially useful in cases where the interviewee is a child or does not properly understand the justice system.
Brandan’s present lawyer remarked, “Brendan’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process were violated by the admission of his involuntary confession.”
This is an obvious example of an instance where little knowledge of psychology was severely abused. The Reid Technique has been replaced by more just and efficient methods in several developed nations around the world.