Criminal Justice Faculty Publications and Presentations

Confession and the Crime Control Model: an Analysis of Exonerated Death Penalty Cases in China

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Confessions clearly have probative value when they are truthful. When not, however, they may lead to disastrous consequences. While the due process model provides procedural safeguards to ensure the voluntariness of a confession, under the crime control model, the reliability of a confession is the main emphasis, given its truth-finding priority. Two forces coexisted in China in the past three decades that warrant a close examination of the nature and goal of confessions: the impact of “strike-hard” campaigns and political pressure to swiftly crack down on serious crimes and the growing international pressure on human rights protections and China’s steady progress in improving procedural safeguards for the criminally accused. Citing 103 wrongfully convicted death penalty cases in China from 1983 to 2012, this study examines two inter-related questions regarding coerced confessions: (1) the extent and characteristics of confessions and torture, and (2) the goal of extracting confessions through torture. This analysis sheds light on the myth of the truth-finding goal under the crime control model and discusses policy implications of China’s current confession laws and death penalty reforms.


Copyright © 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Publication Title

Asian J Criminol