Lynn (lynevere) wrote,


I recently finished the John Grisham's "The Confession," which is less novel than "argument against the death penalty in novel form." In the book, days before a confessed killer's execution, another man shows up and confesses to the crime. There weren't many shades of gray, as the man on death row was (spoiler alert!) completely innocent and many of the lawyers were corrupt, etc.

Still, it was interested to ponder just how much weight an inmate's confession might have on proceedings. I don't trust confessions from tortured prisoners, but I'm increasingly realizing that very few confessions are given freely.

Last summer, Jacob and I watched a not-great reality TV show called "Take the Money and Run." Two contestants had 60 minutes to hide a briefcase filled with money before being taken to prison where the contestants were held captive for the next 48 hours. They had to answer any question posed to them by interrogators but were free to lie. If the money was not found within the 48 hours, the contestants won it.

To me, this was the lowest stakes form of captivity possible, as the interrogators had no power over the contestants. The contestants did not break any laws, so they couldn't be threatened with a longer or reduced jail sentence. The length of captivity was known. There were TV cameras, so there was no threat of violence.

Nevertheless, close to half of the episodes ended with the contestants breaking and telling the interrogators where to look. Clearly, just being in captivity wreaked havoc. Because of this show, I have an easier time understanding why an innocent man - having nothing else to say and being in a much higher stakes situation - could confess to a crime he didn't commit.
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