band was suspected. Then I heard that an Italian boy, who had been
in the State penitentiary on a felony charge and was out, had been
picked up and confessed. I went to police headquarters. The third-
degree room was 8 by 12, furnished by two broken chairs, an old
table, some file cases. As I entered the outer room I saw a policeman
leaving this room. I heard a loud outcry and entered. I saw a young
man kneeling on the floor, with his hands joined and lifted, crying
aloud to God to answer his prayer for help. He was saying, "You
know, God, I didn't do it. I had nothing to do with it. A girl got
me to say this, to help out a detective. They wouldn't believe me
now. I am telling truth. I have got to go to the chair for something
I didn't do."
" 'I interfered, sent the detective out, and questioned the young
man myself. I examined him. He had been beaten over the kidneys.
On one side were three red marks, on the other one large red mark,
and he was weak and in great pain, as from a body beating. He told
me: "They are trying to kill me. They have made me confess to
something I didn't do. I was still in prison at the time the crime was
committed, and you will prove it if you will check the dates." I did
so, and found the young man was telling the truth—he had actually
not been released from prison at the time the woman was murdered.
His story was that a girl, whom he knew, had fallen under the power
of a detective, who was using her for his own purposes, and that she
had, under pressure from this detective, persuaded him to confess.
The essential fact was, they were torturing a man who had a singularly perfect alibi, and they knew it.' "
The worthlessness, as evidence, of confessions extracted under
compulsion, has been demonstrated hundreds of times. Here are a
couple of illustrations from Jardine.
"A German soldier charged with robbing his officer, who was
tortured repeatedly in order to force him to reveal what had become
of the stolen property, under torture accused himself and others of
many crimes and even of murders which had never been committed."
And shortly before the Revolution in 1793, the Parliament of
Paris suspended two Judges from their office who had ordered the
execution of a man for the alleged murder of a woman, proved only
by his own confession under torture—the woman being discovered
alive within two years after the execution of the supposed murderer.
Torture as a legal means of extracting evidence is a part of our
inheritance from ancient Rome. It was a common practice in the
days of the Republic; though, as Blackstone says, "its uncertainty as
a test and criterion for truth was elegantly pointed out by Tully:
though he lived in a state wherein it was usual to torture slaves in
order to furnish evidence: 'Nature sets a limit to what mind and
body can bear; between fear of further torture and hope of release,
there is no room for truth.' " And Cicero was not the only Roman
writer to denounce the practice.