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Netflix’s ‘The Confession Tapes’: Bad Confessions, Good People

Netflix, famous for premiering Making a Murderer, has a new crime show. Instead of following the trials process like Making a Murderer, this show explores police interrogations. Those who thought Making a Murderer was thrilling will experience a more spine-chilling sensation from this new show. The Confession Tapes is seven episodes long, each running for about an hour, so it’s very binge-worthy. In each episode, a new person’s case is reviewed, the only exception is the first two episodes that explore an infamous case from Seattle. Every person introduced has falsely confessed to a crime they did not commit. Through the taped interrogation videos from their initial contact with law enforcement, viewers observe the ways in which these normal, good people are treated by police interrogators, which is often with a forceful tone of voice, lies about evidence they had never obtained and comments about failed polygraphs (which we now know are unreliable), and sometimes, they are not even spoken to at all for hours at a time.

Courtesy: The Daily Beast

People often say to themselves, Oh, I would never say I did a crime if I didn’t do it, and so this is why it is so easy to believe someone committed a crime after they confess to it. However, if you placed yourself in that situation, you might not be so sure of yourself anymore. Imagine something horrible just happened, like your daughter died, your girlfriend/boyfriend was found murdered, or you walk into your home to find your parents dead and your sister on her deathbed. You’re emotionally distraught, you have no idea what is going on, how police procedures work, who to trust, what to feel, or how to even breathe because your loss is so significant. Now that you’re in this state, the police ask to interview you because they want to get started on your case immediately. Of course you agree because you are willing to do anything to find answers, just like the police (so you think).

Once in the interview room you are badgered with questions for hours, you are told lies about evidence the police never had, or that you failed a polygraph. You are given leading questions about the crime, or even being accused by police as they interrogate you. They ask you if maybe, it’s just a little possible, you blacked out and now you can’t remember that you did it. Or maybe you can’t remember your crime consciously, but your unconscious mind knows that you did it.

Eventually after an hour, twelve hours, a day, two days, you break. You confess to something you didn’t do because you begin to doubt yourself from “evidence” the police claim they have, because you believe that a court would find you innocent because you didn’t do it.

Unfortunately, when you do go to trial, you are found guilty due to your “confession” and are shipped away to prison for extremely long periods of time, with a slim chance of hope for release.

The Confession Tapes proves that the scenario we just walked through is a reality for many who come into contact with the criminal justice system during their otherwise normal lives. They are imprisoned, sentenced to life, and many are unable to get out because they exhaust their appeals.

The important underlying question of the show is: If it can happen to anyone at any time, would you falsely confess?

A major in Criminology with an interest in everything else
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