Review of Failure of Justice: A Brutal Murder, An Obsessed Cop, Six Wrongful Convictions by John Ferak
Most people are of the belief that no one would ever confess to a crime they did not commit. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of innocent people have served time or are currently serving time as a result of false confessions. Author John Ferak points out that in cases of DNA-backed exonerations, about 25% involve false confessions.
So how does a false confession happen? In most cases, there is a lengthy interrogation without a lawyer present. The individual is poorly educated. Investigators threaten the individual with lengthy prison time if they don’t confess. When that person finally breaks under pressure, they give elaborate, detailed accounts of the crime. When their version of the crime doesn’t fit the evidence, the interrogator coaches them and provides them with crucial details.
But even when the entire interrogation is videotaped. Even when it is obvious that a confession is false. The police, prosecutors, and defense lawyers all go along as if the inconsistencies in the confession can all be ironed out later at trial. If you watched the documentary “Making a Murderer,” then you saw Brendan Dassey’s false confession. Unfortunately, Brendan is still in prison. Other famous cases involving false confessions include the Memphis Three, The Central Park Five, and the Norfolk Four.
The story of the Beatrice Six, which involved four false confessions, is a compelling case study of our flawed justice system. It shows why we should abolish capital punishment. It shows why we need to hold prosecutors accountable when their actions directly contribute to a wrongful conviction. Maybe if their livelihood was at stake, they wouldn’t be so willing to ignore evidence pointing away from the accused. They wouldn’t be involved in destroying or suppressing evidence of innocence.
This title is available on Amazon for $2.99.