the confessions

related resources


Students should be aware that websites often present only one aspect of an issue. Encourage students to think about and question websites as they are reviewing them. Some guiding questions they can use are: What did you learn from this site? What didn’t you learn from this site? Who sponsors this site? What bias might the sponsor have? How current is the site?


The Norfolk Four

The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions, and the Norfolk Four
By Tom Wells and Richard A. Leo
This nonfiction book provides a detailed chronicle of what happened in the case of the Norfolk Four.

The Washington Post: "The crumbling case against the 'Norfolk Four'"
This opinion piece by Margaret Edds outlines some of the outstanding issues on the case.


False Confessions

The New York Times: "Confessing to Crime, but Innocent"
This article by John Schwartz describes new research that helps shed light on why innocent people might confess to a crime they didn't commit.

"False Confessions?"
The author of this article, Paul G. Cassell, cautions against overstating the problem of false confessions and makes the point that not obtaining the confession of a guilty person poses a greater threat.



"Physical Evidence"
This forensic science textbook chapter describes and illustrates some of the many different types of physical evidence.

"The Psychology of Confession Evidence"
This research article by Saul Kassin examines the psychology of confession evidence, including how it affects jurors.


Primary Source Documents

FRONTLINE: The Confessions
Read and compare interview transcripts of Richard Leo (co-author of The Wrong Guys, a book on the Norfolk Four); Jay Salpeter (co-author of A Criminal Injustice, a book on the 1988 Marty Tankleff false-confession case); Danny Shipley (attorney for Danial Williams, the first of the Norfolk Four); and Michael Fasanaro Jr. (Navy lawyer who represented Joe Dick Jr., one of the Norfolk Four).



The Confessions can be purchased from PBS Educational Media.

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