Shaping Eyewitness And Alibi Testimony With Coercive Interview Practices

The Reid Technique of interrogation has been shown to lead innocent citizens to falsely confess to crimes. Little is known, however, about its use with nonsuspect witnesses, such as eyewitnesses and alibi witnesses. The Reid Manual includes a section that basically says it is appropriate to use the same interrogation methods for suspects on nonsuspect eyewitnesses if the investigator determines that the eyewitnesses are unwilling to disclose key information or are being deceptive. The authors — a defense attorney and two psychologists — discuss a case in which the police used Reid-style interrogation tactics on witnesses, as opposed to the suspect. The results were nearly catastrophic. They use the disclosures from this case to illustrate the dangers of this tactic.