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Now the Rest of the Story

Now the Rest of the Story

The Collaborative Production of Confession Narratives in Police Interrogations

Chapter:
(p.113) Chapter Six Now the Rest of the Story
Source:
The Discourse of Police Interviews
Author(s):
Gary C. DavidJames Trainum
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226647821.003.0006

Stories are a primary mechanism for communicating and sharing information. A confession is a certain type of storytelling. As a storytelling, confessions are unique in that the listeners (i.e. law enforcement) typically have a sense of what the story is supposed to include, and thus whether or not the story is being told ‘correctly.’ This chapter examines how law enforcement agents try to elicit confession narratives, as well as the conversational mechanisms used to shape those narratives. While a confession might be ascribed to a suspect (e.g. the confession of John Doe), they are the product of a conversational collaboration between the suspects and police. We explore how this joint production occurs in the interrogation encounter. This chapter has importance for understanding the origins of stories and details as they emerge in police encounters, especially in relation to claims of false confession and conversationally ‘planting’ crime details for the purpose of recounting during the recorded interview.

Keywords:   police interrogation, false confession, coercion, storytelling, narrative, conversation analysis

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