Marty Tankleff falsely confessed to killing is parents in 1988—now he says all police interrogations need to be recorded.
“Detectives utilize psychological torture, physical torture, they lie to you,” he explained. “The police got a confession. It wasn’t recorded.”
In 1988, when Tankleff was 17, his parents were murdered in his home in Long Island, New York. He was arrested and charged with their murder and, after hours of interrogation, he confessed to the crime.
“Law enforcement kidnaps you, and they torture you. And they torture you through either physical means or psychological means. And they will do it for hours,” he said.
U.S. law allows police to lie to suspects during an interrogation. Police lied to Tankleff during his interrogation, saying they had forensic evidence that he had commented the crime and that his father had woken from a coma and accused him of the killing. He quickly retracted his confession after the interrogation ended, but a jury still sentenced him to 50 years to life in prison.
Tankleff was then exonerated in 2008 after new evidence implicated his father’s business partner. He went on to earn a law degree and now teaches a class on wrongful convictions at Georgetown University. He says the U.S. can reduce its rate of wrongful convictions by recording all criminal interrogations.
24 U.S. states currently mandate the recording of police interrogations.
“We know how powerful video is. We see it day in and day out, from security videos to cellphone videos,” Tankleff said. “It really does expose the truth.”