The Confessions is an award winning documentary, which investigates one of the major landmark cases on miscarriage of justice. The case involves four ex-soldiers from the US Marines accused and convicted of the murder of Michelle Bosko in 1997. The documentary raises several issues concerning police investigation.
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Evidently, the innocent Americans bear the burden for unethical detective practices (Bikel, n.pag). Critics argue that The Confessions reveals the weaknesses of the American justice system. However, there is more than just showing the presumed weaknesses. The documentary represents underlying ignorance of the accused about their rights.
The Norfolk four are victims of such ignorance. Those four are coerced into giving a confession and subsequently incarcerated despite there was no evidence linking them to the murder of Michelle Bosko (Bikel, n.pag). This issue raises several fundamental questions.
Does a false confession convict a suspected criminal even when the facts suggest otherwise? Furthermore, the judge refused to pardon the Norfolk four mentioning that there were also no proofs indicating their innocence. Therefore, if the judge ignored some significant facts, why did evidence become so important in seeking pardon?
The Confessions exposes major flaws within the American justice system. A case such as the Norfolk murder requires all the facts to be carefully evaluated before any verdict is reached. However, the prosecution relied on extracted confession and ignored other key factors, such as forensic evidence linked Omar Ballard to the murder.
Suffice it to state that the American Justice System needs to be rigid to avoid manipulation. However, such rigidity is disastrous in instances where the prosecution makes major flaws during the initial stages of investigating a crime.
Furthermore, the police investigators changed the crime theory after getting Omar’s DNA results (Bikel, n.pag). This suggests that there might have been unseen force behind the investigation, which wanted the four to be convicted.
Therefore, The Confession reveals that the refusal by the justice system to change the guilty verdict after crucial evidence delinked the Norfolk four from the crime highlights inherent injustices within a system that claims to be the most just in the world.
While the American justice system shoulders much of the blame for miscarriage of justice, the Norfolk four are not entirely immune to blame. Despite the fact that Williams, Dick, Tice and Wilson were victims of psychological manipulation, they exposed documentary how ignorance disadvantaged the accused (Bikel, n.pag).
Detective Glenn Ford threatened the four with death penalty if they did not confess to the rape and murder of Michelle Bosko. While such threats exposed some unethical investigation techniques of the American police investigators, they also portrayed underlying ignorance by the accused on the implications of confessing to a crime.
While the accused were made to believe that confessing to the crime would earn them lenient judgment, they were ignorant of the imminent social and psychological implications. The Norfolk four did not realize that confessing to the crime, they branded themselves as criminals.
After being released from prison, Tice came face to face with the harsh reality of societal stigmatization. The community still treated him as a sex offender. Thus, he only found solace within the confines of his bedroom.
The Confessions lays bare the harsh realities of a rogue Justice System. The Norfolk four are victims of flawed detective work. The documentary highlights the public need to educate the public on the basic principles of criminal law.
Bikel, Ofra, dir. The Confessions. Frontline, 2010, Documentary.