WXXI AM News

Connections: Understanding the impact of false confessions on the U.S. justice system

Feb 7, 2019

Why do confessions often supersede all other kinds of evidence in the U.S. justice system? And why are investigators so apt to believe confessions that are false? 

Jennifer Lackey is a philosopher and professor who directs the Prison Education Program at Northwestern University. She has studied how false confessions can lead to a miscarriage of justice. According to the Innocence Project, more than 350 people in the U.S. have been exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence in the last 30 years, and 28 percent of those exonerations involved false confessions.

Lackey is in Rochester to give a public presentation on the subject at the University of Rochester, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guests:

  • Jennifer Lackey, Wayne and Elizabeth Jones Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University, and director and founder of the Northwestern Prison Education Program
  • Joan Shelly Rubin, Dexter Perkins Professor of History, and Ani and Mark Gabrellian Director of the Humanities Center at the University of Rochester