Article for Publication-Correlating the Use of evidence in the interrogation process

Abstract

The article correlates the use of evidence in the interrogation process while using the Reid concept of interrogation; a technique that involves solving cases with little evidence. Preparation for the interrogation involves knowing the facts of the case, some background information of the suspect and setting the right environment for the interrogation process. The interrogator should also distinguish between an interview and an interrogation. The article acknowledges the Reid concept of interrogation and how evidence could be successfully used in different elements and considerations of the interrogation process. 

Correlating the use of evidence in the interrogation process

The criminal justice system is not perfect and there are instances where the innocent are wrongly punished and the guilty remain free. Evidence plays a critical role in the interrogation process as it helps in mitigating a crime and correctly identifying the perpetrator. The Reid technique is an interviewing and interrogation process that was developed by John Reid and Fred Inbau in the 1940s and 1950s. The Reid interrogation process is characteristic of respecting individuals and the court (Williamson, 2006). The Reid technique for interrogation solves cases even when there is little or no evidence. This article correlates the use of evidence in the interrogation and process while considering the Reid concept.

Preparing for the Interrogation 

To prepare for the interrogation, an investigator should consider the setting in which the interview and interrogation will take place, the knowledge and facts of the case, the background information of the suspect, and the methods to be used in documenting any confessions. Prior to starting an interrogation process, the investigator should also assess the availability of evidence. In the Reid technique, an investigator should prepare how to handle the suspect by always paying attention to his or her verbal and non-verbal behavior (Sanow, 2011).  Besides, the investigator should prepare how to use pieces of evidence to elicit more information and incriminating evidence against a suspect. In some instances, however well prepared an investigator is, some interrogations are just not successful. 

Setting and Environmental Considerations 

The interrogation room should have a level of privacy in that it should be free from outside noises and distractions. In addition, the interrogation room should be reassuring to the suspect. Accordingly, the room should be well ventilated and the windows should not be having bars. Apart from privacy, the interrogation room should not have any physical impediments in terms of locks or large objects that might create an impression of ‘false imprisonment’. Interrogation rooms should also be free from pictures and objects that could potentially distract the suspect or witness. A good setting for interrogation should also be small and with the least noise to further minimize distractions (Williamson, 2006). 

In terms of the sitting arrangement, the Reid technique recommends an investigator and suspect to face each other and to keep a distance of about four feet without a table or desk in between. According to Williamson (2006), the best chairs to use in the interview room should be straight-back to allow both the investigator and suspect to remain alerts and attentive during the interrogation process. A controlled setting will ensure that an investigator carefully observes the words and behavior of a suspect even when there is little or no evidence. However, while the setting and environment might be right, some suspects can easily get distracted ultimately disclosing very little or no information. 

Familiarity with Subjects’ Backgrounds 

Investigators should have enough information regarding the suspect including values, past behavior, attitudes and feelings. The investigator can then use this information to understand the suspect emotions and behavior and how these personal traits might have influenced criminal actions. According to Valentine and Davis (2015), the backgrounds of suspects could be quite influential and are common contributors of crime. Some suspects commit crime and defend their actions using personal values and emotions. As suggested by Sanow (2011), in the Reid technique, a suspect’s background and behavior are more reliable than words in obtaining incriminating evidence against a suspect.  

By understanding a suspect’s values, an interrogator could use this to collect evidence from a suspect through confession.  However, not all criminal actions are influenced by a suspect’s personal values and feelings as some offenders’ behaviors are random and cannot be tied to their normal values and emotions. In addition, a suspects’ background could cause biases when it comes to assessing the evidence.

Documenting Confessions 

An investigator should identify the method of documenting confessions prior to starting the interrogation process. According to Becker and Dutelle (2013), the whole interview and interrogation process with a suspect or witness should be documented in video and audio. Video helps in providing a detailed account on what happened before and after a suspect made an incriminating statement. Besides, a video footage can be able to show whether or not a suspect was coerced to make the statement. The reaction of the suspect while making the statement could also be reviewed to assess whether it was an overreaction. In contrast, audio helps to document the interaction between an investigator and a suspect word by word. The Reid technique offers suggestions on ways in which an investigator can document and convert oral confessions to written confessions. In this regard, an investigator should consider using the suspect’s language and avoid using leading questions (Sanow, 2011). 

Distinguishing Between Interrogations and Interviews 

The Reid process includes both interviews and interrogations. During an interrogation process, an interview refers to a non-accusatory conversation between an investigator and a suspect. Interviews are intended to elicit information from a suspect. While dealing with numerous suspects, an investigator will often conduct an interview with every suspect and witness by asking open-ended questions. During interviewing, a guilty person tends to volunteer useful information regarding their activities, access and motives. Since the purpose of an interview is to elicit or gather information, an investigator must remain neutral and objective. However, sometimes interviews fail to gather information no matter how prepared an investigator is. For instance, investigators find it quite difficult to interview repeat offenders (Valentine & Davis, 2015). 

In contrast, an interrogation occurs when an investigator asks suspects questions regarding their activity and involvement that triggered the investigation. Compared to interviews, interrogations are subjective and the investigator usually accuses a suspect. According to Williamson (2006), interviews should be conducted before interrogations. Since most interrogations happen when there is little or no overwhelming evidence against a suspect, interviews are indispensable in obtaining information and evidence that links a suspect to a crime. However, there are instances when interview turn to be accusatory and this could make it quite difficult to go back to the interview mode (Becker & Dutelle, 2013).  

Conclusion

Interrogation is a process and to facilitate its success, investigators need to prepare adequately, have the proper setting and environment, get some background information about a suspect, document the confession in video and audio formats, and distinguish between an interview and an interrogation. The investigator should also know when to use evidence and how to gather evidence from a suspect through a confession. It is also important to note that despite adequate preparation, not all interrogations are successful while using the Reid concept. However, with adequate training, experience and increased awareness, interrogators can successfully use evidence to solve crimes.

 

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