Thank you, Dan Brooks, for an engaging treatment of a difficult subject.
Accumulating reports of exonerations in cases like Barry Beach's highlight the unreliability of coerced confessions, especially from young defendants. In New York City in 1989, for example, detectives extracted confessions to a brutal assault and rape from not one but five teenagers, in the well publicized "Central Park Jogger" incident. All five were convicted and served full terms. The convictions were vacated in 2002, however, when a known rapist confessed to the crime, and DNA testing confirmed that only his semen was found at the scene.
What's needed is police interrogation techniques that are aimed at getting to the truth, not focused narrowly on confirming a suspicion. You can see a pair of officers employing the traditional approach on a teenage mother whose child had just died by following the links on this blog posting: http://onsbs.com/2012/01/02/a-coerced-conf…
Kudos to Jessica Mayrer for her careful look at a difficult problem.
She is onto a real story here: Difficult as it is to believe if you haven't seen it yourself, sincere physicians working with a widely accepted but flawed model of infant head injury have been over-diagnosing infant shaking for decades, and sometimes identifying the wrong perpetrator. For the story of a family torn apart when their son's genetic disorder was misdiagnosed as a shaking injury, please see http://onsbs.com/prologue/
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