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Report: Chicago Is False Confession Capital

December 10, 2012  | 

Screenshot via CBS News.
Screenshot via CBS News.

News magazine "60 Minutes" labeled Chicago the "false confession capital" of the United States Sunday in a segment featuring several men who claimed they were coerced by police detectives into signing confessions for crimes they didn't commit.

The segment featured Terrill Swift, Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson, and Vincent Thames—known as the "Englewood Four." They had their convictions for a 1994 murder overturned last year, after DNA evidence cleared them of guilt, reports CBS Chicago.

In the segment, called "The False Confession Capital," the news magazine reported that Chicago has "twice as many documented false confession cases as any city in the country."

"60 Minutes" also questioned the way police handle interrogations, yet didn't provide many specifics about the particular tactics used. Also, Chicago Police Department officials weren't quoted in the segment. The magazine did provide an interview with a Chicago prosecutor who defended detectives.

In a statement obtained by POLICE Magazine, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he has "zero tolerance for misconduct, and the cases being referenced occurred nearly two decades ago and do not reflect the present day actions of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department."

McCarthy also said the department has implemented new training protocols to "ensure nothing of this nature ever happens again."

The segment reported that the Department of Justice has opened a probe into the department over the matter.

Tags: Chicago PD, Interrogation, Detectives, Wrongful Convictions, External Investigations


Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Mark @ 12/10/2012 10:29 PM

I watched this 60 Minute special. What is appalling to me is that the defendants and media are upset about the rape victim having DNA "in her" that didn't match the convicted suspects - they argue the DNA left behind tells the truth that it wasn't them. But they forget to emphasize a very important fact...SHE WAS A PROSTITUTE. Of course the DNA in her could have been someone else's.

S.S @ 12/11/2012 6:04 AM

They only tell you what they want to tell you. There are specifics to this story that should have been mentioned, and they weren't. AGAIN IT'S WHAT THEY WANT!!!

DPB @ 12/11/2012 2:16 PM

So 60 Minutes, that bastion of truth, justice, and the American way, says the cops are lying and made up facts and doing what Chicago politicians, Obama, and 60 Minutes, themselves (thank you Mike Wallace, Walter Cronkite, etc.) have been doing all along, and that the cops are crooked and incompetent?
I'd say that is the pot calling the kettle black! (no racism implied to pots and kettles.)

Ima Leprechaun @ 12/11/2012 3:03 PM

I suspect this isnt just Chicago but most big US cities. Beatings of prisoners is still common practice across the USA and as long as that is encourgaed there will be false confessions. I have handled many prisoners with odd manerisms and I found they had these due to forced confessions and frequent beatings at the hands of big city agencies. While the administrations "look down" on these practices while speaking to the public they do turn a blind eye to them while prisoners are in custody. This is just American Law Enforcement and while many are trying to change, this it still goes on. We really can't be called professional until all this non-sense stops. Police corruption is bad all over and the good officers know this but they dont want to be harassed and killed by their own fellow officers so they tend to not report abuses out of fear.

John @ 12/12/2012 12:19 AM

Damn, the world must be coming to an end. I'm mostly agreeing with Ima Leprechaun on an issue. I'm very conservative on most law enforcement/public safety issues, but I'm Libertarian concerning the issue of police interrogations. I do not think people should be pressured into confessions through the use of prolonged interrogations. Threats, physical abuse, stress, misplaced guilt, sleep deprivation, need to use restroom, hunger/thirst, and police dishonesty/games are all factors that need to be addressed. I think no individual should be interrogated for more than an hour in a 24 hour period.

Real Police Officer @ 12/12/2012 3:25 AM

Interrogations are usually based on available evidence or at least some belief the person in your custody has committed the crime. When the person confesses, in most cases, he substantiates his confession by leading you to new evidence or at least provides details that only he should have. I,ve been a police officer for 33 years and established most of my career in "Big City Law Enforcement". I have never seen a confession beaten out of anyone. Does it happen? I'm sure. Is it common, @#$% No. But it doesn't go like this. Did you do it? "no" come on please tell us the truth. "No, I did not do it" Okay Dano, let him go home. Let the professionals handle it folks. We see you over our shoulder.

prerry @ 2/4/2013 3:55 PM

Bottom line is that if kids can become desensitized by playing video games daily then so can Officers, Investagators and Prosecutors by dealing with negitive bad stuff every single day. Officers become addicted to busting people and need thier fix, so to speak. They so not want to be wrong on cases. Too much is put on Officers as they are only human. Being human is a fault all of it own.

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