High-Risk Interrogation: Using the “Mr. Big Technique” to Elicit Confessions
Kassin et al. (Police-Induced Confessions: Risk Factors and Recommendation, 2009) provide a detailed and thoughtful analysis of how police interrogation practices might elicit false confessions from innocent suspects. The purpose of this commentary is to provide a brief review of a relatively recent development in Canadian police investigation practice and discuss how this procedure may increase the likelihood of police-induced false confessions. The so-called “Mr. Big Technique” is a non-custodial interrogation tactic wherein suspects are drawn into a supposed criminal organization (actually an elaborate police sting) and subsequently told that to move up in the organization, they must confess to a crime. In this article, we describe this remarkable interrogation technique and discuss issues relevant to the potential induction of false confessions.
KeywordsConfessions False confession Police undercover operations Mr. Big undercover operation
- Gardner, C. (2004, February). R.C.M.P. clarify & defend the “Mayerthorpe Mister Big” operation. RCMP Watch. Retrieved from http://www.rcmpwatch.com/rcmp-clarify-defend-the-mayerthorpe-mister-big-operation/.
- Kassin, S. M., Drizin, S. A., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G. H., Leo, R. A., & Redlich, A. D. (2009). Police-induced confessions: Risk factors and recommendations. Law and Human Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10979-009-9188-6. Retrieved from http://www.springerlink.com/content/85vh322j085784t0/?p=e9ebc0e4afcb401e87a4c97fc5cda8a3&pi=3.
- Lassiter, G. D., & Geers, A. L. (2004). Bias and accuracy in the evaluation of confession evidence. In G. D. Lassiter (Ed.), Interrogations, confessions, and entrapment (pp. 197–214). New York: Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Moore, T. E., Copeland, P., & Schuller, R. (in press). Deceit, betrayal and the search for truth: Legal and psychological perspectives on the ‘Mr. Big’ strategy. Criminal Law Quarterly. Google Scholar
- R. v. Bonisteel. (2008). BCCA 344.Google Scholar
- R. v. Boudreau. (2009). NSSC 30.Google Scholar
- R v. Hodgson. (1998). 2 S.C.R. 449.Google Scholar
- R. v. Mentuck. (2000). MBQB 155.Google Scholar
- R. v. Osmar. (2007). ONCA 50.Google Scholar
- Sands, A. (2005). Mountie sued by former suspect now heads Sherwood Park detachment, Edmonton Sun, January 20, 2005. Retrieved from http://www.injusticebusters.com/05/Steinke_Gary.shtml.