Nearly all people who come into contact with the criminal justice system for the first time do so at the time they are arrested. An arrest is a traumatic experience.
Several psychological events takes place during an arrest:
First a person is seized by what he perceives as an authority figure. The arrested person suddenly realizes his freedom of movement, his autonomy as a free human being, is illusory. He’s no longer free. He’s caged. He tries to explain his innocence, only to realize that this authority figure doesn’t care.
Prior to being arrested, the average person believes cops are solid, honest and trustworthy.
Now, the truth about cops is revealed. Cops are human, thus imperfect. Cops have a flawed sense of judgment. Cops have a bias against non-cops. Cops believe everyone is guilty.
Nothing is more frightening than being arrested. Someone who is arrested is shackled into a pair of handcuffs, often so tightly the nerves in the hands become constricted, causing severe pain. Often handcuffs are so tight they cut off circulation. While at police academy, cops are taught not to put cuffs on too tight. They forget that rule as soon as they hit the streets.
The arrested person is often bolted to a bench like a wild animal. What is most harrowing for an arrested person is the realization that he’s not free anymore. He is completely helpless and at the mercy of his captors.
It’s dehumanizing. It’s terrifying.
So, one can imagine how it must feel to this person who has never had his freedom restrained by an authority figure. He is suddenly unable to move, unable to leave, unable to scratch his own nose or touch his own face, unable to have the simple dignity of simple things like getting water to drink or using the bathroom without begging his captors for permission.
The arrested person is unable to exercise his own free will.
The problem with the arrest matrix is that the arrested person is placed in a position of complete powerlessness. The arrested person assumes that he is without any rights, any power to assert his dignity as a free individual.
The arrested person believes he has to cooperate with the police in order to “clear up” the matter. The arrested person doesn’t understand that he is experiencing this psychological dynamic because fear has gripped him and he is panicking.
The arrested person believes that if he tells cops everything, the cops will see the light and let him go free.
Here is a very important thing to remember: The arrested person does not realize that nothing he says will prevent or void his arrest and everything he says will be used against him.
It’s a human trait to intrinsically believe that a person can talk himself out of trouble. Kids do it all the time. When a kid breaks a window playing baseball, he tells mommy and daddy a long story about why it wasn’t his fault.
Cops use this psychological matrix of control to their advantage. They use the ability to control the arrested person’s freedom of movement to maximize the pressure necessary to obtain the result that they want: the collection of evidence necessary to make a case against that arrested person and to take that case to court for prosecution and ultimately for the conviction of the arrested person.
Remember this: The truth won’t set an arrested person free. Silence will.
(Required by Alabama law: No representation is made that the quality of legal services is greater than other lawyers.)