America's teachers are being trained in a harsh interrogation technique that produces false confessions

The Reid Technique is the go-to method for coercing false confessions in America's police interrogation rooms, and now it's being taught to America's schoolteachers, just as schools are using "zero-tolerance" policies and on-site cops to re-characterize school discipline problems as criminal matters, creating a school-to-prison pipeline.

John E. Reid and Associates originated the technique, which involves "minimization" (the interrogator downplays the seriousness of the offense) and "maximization" (the interrogator threatens the accused with terrible, lasting punishment for failing to confess).

There's also the highly important question of how transforming school administrators into interrogators informs their view of students. A 2009 study cited by the New Yorker suggests that among police, training in the Reid Technique skewed perceptions of juveniles, making them appear more adult and less trustworthy. University of Virginia psychologists reported that "Reid-trained police were less aware of the developmental differences between adolescents and adults than police who did not receive the training." The researchers also found that officers trained in the Reid Technique "tended to believe that adolescents were just as capable as adults of withstanding psychologically coercive questioning, including deceit." That's not a particularly surprising outcome to casting every student as a potential criminal. If even well-trained law enforcement personnel have their ideas about minors shifted in this way, imagine the likely impact interrogation training has on school administrators.

If all this isn't enough to show how problematic interrogations in schools are, consider how the practice contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline, a cluster of education policies that combine to deliver students—overwhelmingly poor, African American, Latino, or coping with physical and mental disabilities—directly from schools to jails. Zero-tolerance policies, which criminalize and disenfranchise already vulnerable students, have resulted in an unprecedented rise in suspensions and expulsions. The Vera Institute of Justice finds that around the country, the number of high school students suspended or expelled each academic year increased "from one in 13 in 1972-'73 to one in nine in 2009-'10"—a nearly 40 percent rise.

From preschool throughout their years of schooling, black and Latino students are more likely to be punished in this way. Though schools have multiple options for disciplining students, under zero tolerance they often resort to the harshest available, despite evidence that interventions such as counseling yield better results for student health than criminalization. [Kali Holloway/Alternet]

(via Naked Capitalism)