Jack_Lecter (the_shadower) wrote,

musings and rantings

As regards forensic interrogation, we must consider that there are, roughly discriminating, two types. To some extent these types bleed into one another, but to a very considerable extent the duality is sound.
The goal of the first type is information. In this instance, the subject being interrogated may or may not be suspected of wrongdoing in the matter being investigated. Either way, those doing the interrogating (hereafter referred to as 'cops', for simplicity) are likely to be concerned with the subject's body language and nonverbal cues. They will analyze what the subject says and attempt to draw conclusions. If they suspect the subject of wrongdoing, they will look for incriminating or conflicting details, as well as facts which may be helpful to the investigation. Some of these may be psychological in nature- for instance, they may look for clues as to where the subject would likely have disposed of crucial evidence, or ask about various people in the subject's life in order to discern which if any of these people are likely to have valuable knowledge. In any case, they will scrutinize the subject's body language and nonverbal cues, as these also constitute a source of information.
The goal of the second type of interrogation is compliance. In this instance, the cops want the subject to say something incriminating, but the subject does not want to do so. In this sort of interrogation we are likely to see repetitive questioning, verbal and nonverbal threats, and interrogation techniques of which I am unaware. I know very little about this type of interrogation, but I do understand that it explains certain techniques which seem to have limited or no value when the goal of the exercise is information. Sleep deprivation and emotional stressors are likely to play a role, as are extremely repetitive questioning and uncomfortable surroundings. Lying may also be used in a variety of different ways. Some of these deserve a more extensive discussion than I intend to furnish here.
In the first type of interrogation, cops will look over and feel out the subject's story for inconsistencies. In the second type, cops will attempt to create inconsistencies.
What strikes me most about this whole thing is what we might call a parellel. I do not know how exact it is, or to what extent it affects things in the real world, but this lack of knowledge itself distresses me. In our culture, certain aspects of the justice system are extremely well known. We need not have had any personal experience with the system to have knowledge of various details- many people who have never been questioned by police, for instance, have some idea as to what the term 'good cop/bad cop' entails. And I have kept an attentive ear to the ground, waiting for this parellel I imagine to be addressed or debunked.
It occurrs to me, in the context of the second type of interrogation, that there does not appear to be much if any distinction between an innocent subject and a guilty one. In both instances, the cops are attempting to get the subject to say something which he does not wish to. His motives for resisting are likely to be similar in either case- neither an innocent nor a guilty man desires to go to jail. Some, of course, are motivated to confess in order to soothe their conscience, and in such instances confession is a rational decision. It has also been obvserved that at times people spontaneously confess to things they have not actually done, perhaps motivated by any number of things which would equally apply to those who have actually committed the crime.
However, what draws my attention is the moment when the cops are attempting to elicit a confession from a man who has determined not to give them one. In this instance, regardless of his guilt, the decision to confess is an irrational one which would seem to contradict the subject's sane and rational motivations. What I really want to know is: to what extent are the strategies used by the cops equally applicable to both a guilty and an innocent man? Both can, I think, through stress, be made in some cases to say things which they do not mean. Both are susceptible to the threat of physical violence. Both are equally threats, as regard sentencing and so forth. If the cops lie about the strength of the other evidence in their posession, in many instances the lie will be equally compelling to both a guilty and an innocent man. Witnesses lie, and make mistakes. Lab work is screwed up, evidence can be planted by third parties, and in some instances forged by cops- this happening with enough consistency as to undermine the individual's certainty that the forensic evidence will bear out the facts as he recalls them. Even when lab work accurately reflects events, its utility is questionable- the suspect's fingerprint can only show you that the suspect touched something. The suspect's hair cannot even show that the suspect was present where it was found- if it fell out there, it could as easily have fallen out elsewhere.
But this is a digression, albeit one which informs my central question, which is: to what extent is the second type of questioning blind to the subject's guilt or innocence? To what extent does it rely on the former to be effective? In what ways and to what extent does it differ, in principle, from manufacturing evidence against a man who may or may not be guilty? And what I think I want to know most- a question which is very difficult to word exactly- how do cops think about all this? What story (true or false) do they tell themselves regarding these actions? If they don't think about all this on a conceptual level, what do they do instead, in their own minds? Assuming a lack of conceptual thinking, how do they avoid it, considering their proximity? Assuming the presence of conceptual thinking, what justifications do they employ? Or, assuming that only the guilty can be made to confess, how is this distinction reflected in the questioning techniques currently being used? Finally, why am I, as far as I can tell, the first person to ask these questions?
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