Date of Award

2023

First Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Abstract

Traumas are threatening, harmful, or painful events that unfortunately affect many individuals in multiple areas of their lives. Trauma can affect the way that someone acts, how they process information, how they view themselves and others, and what they might say. Unfortunately, the US justice system has been historically negligent in adopting the reforms necessary to promote and implement trauma-informed interrogations, especially when it comes to suspects who have a history of trauma associated with sexual and physical abuse. There have been countless court cases resulting in the incarceration of individuals who were interrogated under the suspicion that they were guilty of a crime and coerced into a false confession through a variety of manipulation and fear tactics, such as those all too evident in the Reid Technique for interrogations. In this thesis, I apply this lens—of the harm of traditional interrogation methods on those who are victims of trauma—to an analysis of the much-publicized case of Melissa Lucio, who was sentenced to death in 2008 for the death of one of her children. I conclude by citing an example of another, more trauma-informed, approach to the process, as well as other options and procedures that would be more trauma-informed to help raise awareness, in honor of those who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime due to the fault-lines within our the justice system.

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