Why “Criminals” Should Have Rights

How can you turn an innocent suspect into a criminal? Deprive them of sleep:

The New Scientist article notes several cases in which a sleep-deprived suspect was later exonerated, including Damon Thibodeaux, who was wrongly imprisoned in Louisiana for 15 years. There’s also Daniel Anderson of Chicago, who spent 25 years in prison for a sleep-deprived confession. Frank Sterling served more than 18 years in a New York prison after falsely confessing to raping and killing a 74-year-old woman in 1988. His confession came after 12 straight hours of interrogation. He tried to explain what he was going through to New York magazine in 2010: “They just wore me down . . . I was just so tired. Remember, I hadn’t had any sleep since about 2:30 Tuesday night . . .“It’s like, ‘Come on, guys, I’m tired—what do you want me to do, just confess to it?’ It’s like, yeah—I wanted to get it over with, get home, and get some sleep . . . Eighteen years and nine months later, I finally get to go home.”

Sleep deprivation can even cause people to falsely admit to raping and killing their own children. Jerry Hobbs, an Illinois man who confessed to raping and murdering his daughter and her friend, spent five years in jail before he was cleared for the crimes. DNA had exonerated him after just two years, but citing his confession, prosecutors came up with bizarre alternate narratives to explain why the DNA found in the victims didn’t come from Hobbs. Because he was out looking for his daughter the night before his arrest, Hobbs hadn’t slept in 24 hours. After his arrest, he was interrogated for 20 hours straight, which means he’d gone nearly two full days with no sleep before confessing. Kevin Fox, another Illinois man, falsely confessed to raping and killing his daughter after 14 straight hours of interrogation. He remained in jail for eight months until DNA testing exonerated him and implicated another man for the crime.

More here.

I was on call for jury duty last year, and witnessed a voir dire session. I was stunned how quickly my so-called peers were quick to pronounce guilt just based on the level of accusation. That experience, coupled with stories like this, show just how important it is that we safeguard the rights of all people.

In today’s political climate, believing in this probably makes me a “p—y.”


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