Illinois has become the first state to bar police from using deceptive tactics when interrogating people under the age of 18.
Backers say youngsters are much more likely than adults to make a false confession to escape the intensifying pressure of interrogation at the police station. Typical examples of deception used against adults and children would be where a detective dangles the prospect of leniency in exchange for cooperation or falsely tells the suspect that the police have incriminating evidence against them.
Under the law, a confession that authorities obtained after using deceptive practices on a juvenile would now be ruled inadmissible as evidence in court.
State Sen. Robert Peters and state Rep. Justin Slaughter, both Democrats, introduced the bill in their respective houses. It passed with nearly unanimous support and the backing of powerful law enforcement organizations and figures.
New York and Oregon have similar bills under consideration, according to the nonpartisan Innocence Project, whose research uncovered false confessions in hundreds of cases in which police deceived suspects, many of them juveniles.
Last month, the Oregon proposal passed the full Senate and was sent to the House. The New York bill, which would ban deception not only for young people, but also for adults, is still pending. According to the Innocence Project, In New York alone, there have been 43 known false confession cases, including the so-called Central Park Five.
The Innocence Project called Illinois’ action “historic.”
“Our state has been known for too long as the ‘false confession capital of the world,’ and we are proud to see Illinois take a leading role in reforming this outdated practice,” said Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director at the Illinois Innocence Project based at the University of Illinois Springfield.