The Reid technique is a method of questioning suspects to try to technique for children 6 years their credibility, developed by consultant and polygraph expert John Reid. 500,000 by the state of Nebraska in compensation for his wrongful conviction.
Individuals should only be interrogated when the information developed from the interview and investigation indicate that the subject is involved in the commission of the crime. In the Reid technique, interrogation is an accusatory process in which the investigator tells the suspect that the results of the investigation clearly indicate that they did commit the crime in question. The interrogation is in the form of a monologue presented by the investigator rather than a question and answer format. The demeanor of the investigator during the course of an interrogation is ideally understanding, patient, and non-demeaning. For example, an admission of guilt might be prompted by the question, “Did you plan this out or did it just happen on the spur of the moment? This is called an alternative question which is based on an implicit assumption of guilt.
The subject, of course, always has a third choice which is to deny any involvement at all. Advise the suspect that the evidence has led the police to the individual as a suspect. Offer the person an early opportunity to explain why the offense took place. Try to shift the blame away from the suspect to some other person or set of circumstances that prompted the suspect to commit the crime. That is, develop themes containing reasons that will psychologically justify or excuse the crime. Themes may be developed or changed to find one to which the accused is most responsive. Try to minimize the frequency of suspect denials.
At this point, the accused will often give a reason why he or she did not or could not commit the crime. Try to use this to move towards the acknowledgement of what they did. Reinforce sincerity to ensure that the suspect is receptive. The suspect will become quieter and listen. Move the theme discussion towards offering alternatives. If the suspect cries at this point, infer guilt.
The suspect is expected to choose the easier option but whichever alternative the suspect chooses, guilt is admitted. As stated above, there is always a third option which is to maintain that they did not commit the crime. Lead the suspect to repeat the admission of guilt in front of witnesses and develop corroborating information to establish the validity of the confession. Critics of the technique claim it too easily produces false confessions, especially with children. In Canada, Provincial Court Judge Mike Dinkel ruled in 2012 that “stripped to its bare essentials, the Reid technique is a guilt-presumptive, confrontational, psychologically manipulative procedure whose purpose is to extract a confession. It was discovered in December 2013 that an unredacted copy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation interrogation manual had been impermissibly placed in the Library of Congress and was available for public view.