Illinois became the first US state on Thursday (July 15) to prohibit its police officers from lying when questioning minors. Democratic Governor JB Pritzker has signed a law, which will come into force in 2022, to put an end to a practice accused of increasing the risk of false confessions and therefore of judicial errors.
The confessions of children and adolescents obtained “by deception“, Either by presenting erroneous facts or with false promises of mercy, will no longer be admissible during trials, according to this text. “One of the essential principles of good governance is to recognize when to change laws that have served the public.“, Said the governor, quoted in a press release.
This reform, supported by unions of police and prosecutors, “makes Illinois the first state in the country to ban law enforcement from using deceptive tactics when questioning young people”, According to this document.
Legal for decades in the United States, these interrogation methods have “leads to an unacceptable rate of false confessions among minors», Which are more easily influenced, according to a study by the Faculty of Law of New York University published in 2017. The National registry of exonerations, which compiles the files of people wrongly convicted and then cleared, estimates that 12% of the more than 2,800 cases in its database involved false confessions.
Among the most resounding cases, figures that of five black and Hispanic teenagers, who had been convicted of the rape and the attempted murder of a jogger in Central Park, in 1989 in New York, on the basis of confessions made to them. had been ripped off with false promises of release. The “five from central parkSpent between six and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist admitted to assaulting the jogger and acting alone.