The Use of Coercion in Interrogations


Assignment 2: The Use of Coercion in Interrogations

The American Psychological Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association all oppose the use of coercion in interrogation. These organizations strictly prohibit their members from participating in interrogations in which coercion is used. These organizations claim that coercion is unethical.

The resolution of the APA (2008) on coercion in interrogation includes the following statement:

BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association affirms that there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether induced by a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, that may be invoked as a justification for torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including the invocation of laws, regulations, or orders. (para. 7)

Publicly revealed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) transcripts and interviews with CIA employees detail that harsh methods were used to develop information from suspected terrorists. Use the key words “John Kiriakou interview with Brian Ross” on a search engine to read a CIA officer’s revelation on the methods used to develop information from a suspected terrorist.

A potential logical conclusion about the treatment of detained combatants is that coercion works and, because it works so well, it can be justified under some exceptional circumstances.


Create a 2- to 3-page paper addressing the following:

Detail what the scientific literature states with regard to the use of coercion in interrogations. Include an unbiased evaluation of the use of coercion and when it may or may not be justified.

Include examples of coercive techniques and the purported effectiveness. You will need to address the possibility of false confessions as a result of coercive techniques.

Sample paper

The Use of Coercion in Interrogations

The judicial system of any country is meant to bring justice and to maintain law and order in their area of jurisdiction. However, most are the times that officers of the law use the wrong methods to obtain information and data to enable them to put away law breakers and the bad guys in the society. Coercion focuses on persuading someone; especially suspects to do something especially give information and data through the use of force or threats. However, despite the fact that this form of interrogation helps officers to obtain the relevant information and data to out away criminals, it has negative effects on the suspect and the interrogator. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American medical association oppose coercion in interrogation because they feel that this interrogation leads to false confession which in turn leads to the wrong imprisonment (Dimitriu 1, 2013). This assignment will attempt to shed more light on the use of coercive in interrogations, give scenarios when this type of interrogations should be used as well as give examples of techniques used in coercive interrogation.

Relentless persuasion of a suspect as guilty without concrete exhibit, coercing a defendant to confess under huge pressure and containing a suspect’s position by feeding them with a factual statement about a crime they did not commit is not ethical. Often criminal confessions obtained through the use of physical force are considered coerced, and in most cases, they cannot be used against the accused in a court of law. Scientists believe that police coercion may have an even more powerful impact and influence on venerable people such as juveniles, the mentally disabled and the mentally ill who admit to the crime to escape the long, harsh interrogation process and procedure. It is worth noting that coercive interrogation is more than the use of physical force to extract information from a person. The process begins by wrongful classification of an innocent individual as guilty, which prompts the officers of the law to subject him or her to an accusatorial interrogation. Scientists believe that defendants have data in long-term recollection that they elect not to share, but the extended utilization of methods that inflict stress and inconvenience will eventually force them to release the information. Most of the individuals who support this technique assume that the coercive interrogation methods are more effective in obtaining data and information than the normal standard interrogations (Ainsworth, 2010). However, most of the individuals who advocate for this technique are not concerned with the credibility and reliability of the information obtained but rather are concerned with extracting the information. Thus, most of the officers may end up getting the wrong information. Most of the people believe that that coercive interrogation is not supported by science.

Most experts and human activists are against the use of coercion interrogation are totally against the idea of subjecting suspects into physical evidence without concrete evidence. However, the United States government, especially under the Bush administration, had adopted this technique for military prosecution processes. Given the fact that military offenders are always treated differently owing to their training and their oath to protect the constitution of their country, they should be interrogated and prosecuted differently from the normal interrogation procedures. Most of the administrators in this reign believed that coercion was meant to soften the soldiers and prisoners of war to give the relevant information, especially after the 9/11 attack. On the other hand, under normal circumstances, police officers are not allowed to use physical force to extract information from suspects.

Depending on the nature of the individual being interrogated, law enforcement officers use different coercion methods and techniques to obtain information. One of the most widely used coercion technique used to pressure suspects to confess focuses on isolating accused from friends and families.  By isolating the suspect, the interrogators aim at preventing the suspects from getting emotional support.  Isolation is utilized prior, and during the questioning and in most cases it involves false confession and this may last for hours or in other cases for days. Psychologists believe that a suspect isolated for two or fewer hours stands a better chance to give true confession.  On the other side, any isolation taking more than six hours can culminate to false competition. Besides, long interrogation periods are likely to lead to weariness as deficits in observance and lowered resistance to convincing.

On the other side, confronting accused with exhibit of their guilt can also be described as a form of coercion interrogation. In most cases, the interrogators lie by stating that they already have evidence linking the suspect to the crime, although in the real sense the evidence does not exist. Often, these interrogators claim they have DNA, eyewitness or even fingerprints which force the accused to question the own memories of the events (Model, 2015). At times, the suspects are forced to believe to have blacked out during the crime, leaving them with no option other than confessing.

In conclusion, it is correct to say that constant pressure from the officers of the law can eventually force the suspects to confess or give false information regarding the case at hand. However, coercion interrogations are inhumane and should not be practiced at any circumstance.


Ainsworth, J. (. (2010). Curtailing coercion in police interrogation: the failed promise of Miranda v. Arizona. . The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics. New York: Routledge,, 111-125.

Dimitriu 1, G. (. (2013). Interrogation, Coercion and Torture: Dutch Debates and Experiences after 9/11. Intelligence and National Security, 28(4),, 547-565.

Model, A. F. (2015). Online Appendix For “The Interrogation Game: Using Coercion and Rewards to Elicit Information from Groups”.