New York State To Wrongfully Convicted: It's Kinda Your Fault You Confessed

Categories: Courts, Justice

In the years since Gristwood's conviction, a growing wave of exonerations has shown that, under enough physical strain and psychological pressure, people sometimes confess to crimes they did not commit. Around a quarter of DNA exonerations have involved false confessions.

But New York state has argued that those who falsely confess are ineligible for compensation because their own misconduct led to the conviction. "That limit was meant to weed out deliberate misconduct to gain some tactical advantage, say, a confession intended to conceal a loved one's guilt," the New York Times explained in a 2011 editorial criticizing the state's argument. In truth, the cause of false confessions are often the "common police interrogation techniques that sometimes cause innocent people to confess."

The state has denied liability for Gristwood's wrongful imprisonment. It has also asked the Appellate Division's five-judge panel to limit any liability payment to $2 million.

Because of the ongoing appeal, Gristwood has not gotten any of the money yet. If he wins the appeal, the state will have to include interest to the payment. The interest rate is more than $1,000 a day. They payment currently stands at more than $7 million.

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