Chicago: ‘The False Confession Capital of the United States’

Byron Pitts of 60 Minutes looks at the high number of false confessions in the city, and puts Anita Alvarez on the spot for her office’s handling of two cases the program investigated.

Via Aaron Renn, who writes “warning: you will be outraged.” It’s a 60 Minutes report on false confessions in Chicago, which the director of the Innocence Project calls the “Hall of Fame” of false confessions.

The report focuses on juvenile false confessions, which is especially concerning given Angela Caputo’s recent Chicago Reporter piece on juvenile arrests in Chicago:

In 2009, the latest year for which data are available, the number of 17-year-olds arrested on potential felony charges in Chicago—6,133 in all—not only trumped all major cities across the country, but nearly equaled the combined total of three cities with the next highest records: Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia. New York’s police department didn’t report its arrest data to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics that year.

Reporter Byron Pitts is particularly hard on Anita Alvarez, whom he puts on the spot for her office’s handling of the cases in question. It’s difficult to watch.

Update: Eric Zorn, who’s written about Alvarez and Cateresa Matthews before (one of the cases in the 60 Minutes piece), has more on Alvarez’s appearance on the show, with a transcript of what she said.



2 years ago
Posted by Katy

Thanks for bringing attention to this, whet. I wrote about this a bit last year:

Some simple changes in practices can go a long way to avoid false confessions--namely, recording interrogations and confessions, and providing copies of the tape to defense counsel promptly.


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