The Reid Technique is not the only interrogation technique that has been utilized when attempting to retrieve the truth from an uncooperative and/or unwilling suspect. Among the many other options that have been utilized are: polygraph, hypnosis, voice/physical/mental stress, torture and chemicals. In particular let’s focus on the use of “Chemicals” in the assistance of obtaining a confession about a crime in comparison to the use of the Reid Technique.
First, let’s examine the background for the use of chemicals. Because of its use for obtaining confessions from suspects and the general idea that suspects (or anyone else) are not capable of lying while under its’ influence it has been referred to as “truth serum.” Over time the chemical(s) has changed. The first truth serum to be identified and classified as such was a pharmacological agent used as an anesthetic named scopolamine. Robert House, an obstetrician in Texas, was using this chemical for his pregnant patients in 1916. He noticed that some of his patients who received the anesthetic scopolamine during delivery fell into a half-sleep in which they could sometimes answer questions without remembering having done so afterward (REFERENCE EL-HAI).
Scopolamine works by depressing the central nervous system and diminishing inhibitions, thus, allowing for them to be less guarded and use less discretion and caution allowing them to “spill the beans.” Albeit, Dr. House had the idea that this chemical could be used to help with verifying a suspect’s claim of innocence, contrary to today’s idea of getting a confession. He so strongly believed in this theory that he traveled to various jails and demonstrated the process of using chemicals to validate claimed innocence. In 1922 he used the technique on two prisoners in a Dallas Jail and the prisoners both ended up being exonerated of their charges. (REFERENCE) Thus began the age of truth serum for investigations as well as, the term narcoanalysis was born.
After House’s death in 1929, the use of scopolamine and later truth serums — sodium amytal and sodium pentothal — changed course, truth serums began to be used for interrogation purposes on suspects who were being treated as though they were guilty, versus being used on those who were thought to have possibly been falsely accused and wrongfully convicted. In 1942, there were scientists working for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA’s wartime predecessor, who were asked to develop a chemical substance that could break down the psychological defenses. After testing several compounds, the OSS scientists selected a potent extract of marijuana as the best available "truth serum." The cannabis concoction was given the code name TD, meaning Truth Drug (REFERENCE LEE truth serums). The search for a true “truth serum” was still in hot pursuit. In 1947 the U.S. Navy launched Project Chatter which utilized a hallucinogenic drug derived from the peyote cactus, which is similar in...