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Police Interrogation and American Justice Paperback – August 24, 2009
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This is the best book on police interrogation I have ever read-- and I have been reading about the subject (and writing about it) for 50 years. The long chapter on the 'third degree' is fascinating-- and it reveals that a century ago the city police of America were using some of the same harsh interrogation techniques that the CIA used after 9/11. (Yale Kamisar, University of San Diego)
A gripping indictment of what goes on behind the closed doors of police interrogation rooms. From psychological manipulation, to threats of harm and promises of leniency, to lengthy incommunicado questioning, all the way to outright brutality...Leo's book is a powerful contribution to criminal justice public policy...Police Interrogation and American Justice causes one to marvel at the extent to which the parties in the justice system have been complicit in enabling lawless police to effect convictions of suspects by coercing their confessions. Leo offers suggestions for reform, which are fair and reasonable in a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world. (Heidi Boghosian Federal Lawyer 2008-09-01)
It is the best book on this subject. Richard Leo uses data not ordinarily available. He brilliantly documents the everydayness of police dialogue with suspects in chapters discussing "professionalizing the police" and "the third degree in America" as well as through analysis of relentlessly systematic police use of deceit, manipulation, lying and disguised coercion...The result is both convincing and brilliant...This is an excellent book. Read it. Use it. Such books are exceedingly rare. (Ephraim Margolin The Champion 2008-09-01)
[A] brilliant analysis of police interrogations. In this rich tome, [Leo] analyzes police interrogations in the broad context of the adversarial system of American criminal justice. He presents a thorough look at interrogations as a truth-seeking tool as well as a manipulative means to coerce suspects to say what they should not say, and do not necessarily want to say. Leo's approach of using case studies to supplement his scholarly arguments makes this an interesting and valuable read for anyone interested in police work...The result is a well-organized, well-written social scientific account of police interrogations...His book is an important contribution to the workings of the police in America. (Geoffrey P. Alpert Contemporary Sociology 2008-09-01)
Law professor Leo, one of the most prolific and knowledgeable scholars on police investigations, offers a book both eye-opening and important. (B. J. Goetz Choice 2009-02-01)
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Top Customer Reviews
Popular belief in the "myth of the psychological interrogation" - that only the guilty confess and that confession statements are reliable - prevents judges and jurors from understanding is that the extreme and sophisticated psychological coercion tactics wielded in some interrogations, especially in serious or high-profile cases, can make almost anyone feel helpless enough to falsely confess, Leo argues. He explains how the final product is jointly scripted by the police and the hapless suspect into such a compelling narrative that a fair trial is rendered impossible.
One of the book's many strengths is its focus on topics that are rarely studied in much depth, such as this topic of how the postadmission narrative is constructed. Another rarely highlighted topic is the corrupting effect of systematic police deception in reports and court testimony about what goes on in the interrogation room.Read more ›
The book is, as I expected, essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how interrogations and confessions work. But beyond my expectations, the book provides a mind-expanding view of how the American justice system really works. In many criminal cases, everything that happens after what occurs in the interrogation room is relegated to formalities.
This is must reading for anyone involved in the criminal justice system, including police, courts, corrections, and more.
With this book, author Richard A. Leo provides an invaluable reference for those with a need to understand police interrogation and confessions in a historical sense.
The writing style is definitely intended for criminal justice professionals and students in senior-level college courses. Readers looking for a basic understanding of police interrogation and confessions won't find what they're looking for in this book.
Some of the cases the author cites to demonstrate his conclusions are stomach churning in their injustice to the accused. Families blown apart and innocent lives ruined because of the intensity of the interrogations and the police belief in their own infallability at determining the truth. The cases of the Spokane police deputy and the U.S. Marshalls son are alarming reminders that it doesn't matter who you are, a scrap of circumstancial evidence or a clearly false accusation and you too can find yourself in a police interrogation room.
The author tends towards writing in an academic form. It's definitely readable, but some might find it a bit dry. He does provide plenty of references and I found it enlightening to read through them.
My only real complaint is that the author repeats some of his points over and over again throughout the book. After a while I started suspecting that the repeated points were filler to make the book longer or the chapters were academic papers written by the author and edited into book form.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I highly recommend this book.
Item arrived on time. The book did not help me with interrogations.Published on July 17, 2014 by TSierra
True it is a good and informative book. However, it is a very,very slow read. Remember that very intelligent but yet monotone professor you heading College? Read morePublished on January 16, 2013 by marine
Any criminal defense attorney who wants to win tough cases should have this book on his/her desk. If you don't care, then don't bother to get it.Published on June 5, 2009 by Steve Nardi