Netflix Defames Reid

Written By: Reid
Jun 19, 2019

In the Netflix 4 part series "When They See Us," the creators attempt to re-create the story of the Central Park Jogger case, in which 5 juveniles were alleged to have falsely confessed to the assault of a female jogger in Central Park. In the series there is no actual footage of the interviews or interrogations of these suspects, but rather they recreate the interrogations as they think they happened. They have actors playing the roles of the various characters, including the investigators.

In episode 4 there is a specific reference to the Reid Technique - here is the statement:

An investigator is speaking to one of the investigators who obtained one of the confessions, stating to him: "You squeezed statements out of them, after 42 hours of questioning and coerciveness without food, bathroom breaks, withholding parental supervision, the Reid Technique has been universally rejected. That's truth to you."

Inv: " I don't know what the f------- Reid Technique is.... know what I was taught, I know what I was asked to do."

The very clear and obvious idea that the creators are making is that the Reid Technique is coercive and teaches investigators to conduct excessively long interrogations, to deny subjects the opportunity to use the washroom or to get something to eat or drink, and to deny subjects their rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and Netflix knows this.

In the Netflix series, "Making a Murder Part 2", the interrogation of Brendan Dassey is discussed by Attorney Steve Drizen and Attorney Lauara Nirider during the first 15 minutes of Episode 2. (Attorneys Drizin and Nirider represent Dassey in his appeals).

The two attorneys are shown on screen giving a presentation to lawyers at Northwestern University Law School, discussing the Brendan Dassey interrogation. During their presentation they reference John E. Reid and Associates as the benchmark for proper interrogation practices and procedures. Specifically, they state that Reid and Associates teaches that using deception or false evidence "should be avoided when interrogating a youthful suspect with low social maturity or a suspect with diminished mental capacity."

They then again refer to Reid and Associates as teaching that investigators should not reveal all of the case information to the subject during the interrogation so that the investigator can use the disclosure of that information by the subject as an indication of the authenticity of his confession.

The suggestion by Netflix, or anyone else that the Reid Technique is in any way coercive or "has been universally rejected" is baseless. As one federal court has stated, "In sum, the proffered expert testimony to the effect that the Reid technique enhanced the risk of an unreliable confession lacked any objective basis for support whatever." U.S. v. Jacques

The following are the core principles of the Reid Technique, consistent with the Innocence Project (which has hired our services to assist them in several cases):

  • Do not make any promises of leniency

  • Do not threaten the subject with any physical harm or inevitable consequences

  • Do not conduct interrogations for an excessively lengthy period of time

  • Do not deny the subject any of their rights

  • Do not deny the subject the opportunity to satisfy their physical needs

  • Withhold information about the details of the crime from the subject so that if the subject confesses the disclosure of that information can be used to confirm the authenticity of the statement

  • Exercise special cautions when questioning juveniles or individuals with mental or psychological impairments

  • Always treat the subject with dignity and respect

  • The confession is not the end of the investigation � investigate the confession details in an effort to establish the authenticity of the subject�s statement

For additional information see Clarifying Misrepresentations of Law Enforcement Interrogation Techniques