Published on: Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Police in Illinois could soon be banned from lying to juvenile suspects during questioning. The Illinois state legislature approved a bill on Sunday prohibiting law enforcement officers from using deception tactics while interrogating minors -- who are especially vulnerable to making false confessions (article available here).

Though few Americans realize it, police regularly deceive suspects during questioning to try to secure confessions, from saying DNA placed them at the scene of a crime to claiming eyewitnesses identified them as being the perpetrator. Detectives also can lie about the consequences of confessing, saying, for instance, that admitting responsibility is a quick ticket home.

Under the bill, confessions made by juvenile suspects who were deceived by law enforcement officers during the interrogation process would be deemed "inadmissible as evidence."

Illinois is the first state to pass such a bill, according to the Innocence Project. Though it is currently legal for police in all 50 states to lie during interrogations, state legislatures in New York and Oregon have introduced similar bills. The Oregon bill, sponsored by a former law enforcement officer, passed the House this week and heads next to the Senate. The pending bill in New York would apply to adults as well as minors.