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Use of Polygraph Tests in Chicago Crime Cases

December 3rd, 2013 at 11:05 am

police investigationWhen arrested for a crime in Chicago, the normal procedure is to be questioned by an officer.  Occasionally, a member of a department’s polygraph unit would examine the suspect with the help of a lie detector test.  Yet, a couple of convictions have been overturned lately, such as the murder charge against Nicole Harris.  Harris was convicted of murdering her four year old son in 2005 after being coerced into a confession with a false polygraph test.  In June of 2013, this conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court based on evidence uncovered by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

The use of polygraph examinations has decreased significantly over the past couple of years.  In 2011, around 400 tests were administered to suspects of crime compared to only 50 over eight months in 2013. The reason that the Chicago Police Department gave for the drop was that polygraph units have been reassigned from forensics units to the human resources department.  Their new orders include interviewing potential officer candidates.  “The temporary detail was made to address the backlog in pre-employment screening needs.  There hasn’t been a move away from polygraphs as a part of criminal investigations,” according to police spokesperson Adam Collins.

This change seems to coincide with an investigation by the Chicago Tribune into false confessions obtained by polygraph departments.  It was uncovered that examiners did not follow the proper procedures for giving polygraph examinations.  Rather the polygraph teams saw the examination as an opportunity to coerce a confession with possibly false information.  These departments also did not follow the standards of administering or scoring the tests they received.  Polygraph tests are supposed to be scored based on a numerical scale, but one examiner even said that they scored the test simply by “eyeballing it”.

If you have been arrested for any crime, it is important to have a defense attorney review your case.  They can make sure that the investigation follows the proper guidelines without violating your rights.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook County today.

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