Netflix’s The Confession Tapes [Documentary Review] BASIS OF THE CONFESSION TAPES

Netflix’s The Confession Tapes takes a look at seven cases in which suspects were interrogated until they confess to the crime. But the confessions do not come easy, nor are they valid.  Most of these suspect(s) have been in the interrogation room up to 10 hours, if not more.  And all of these interrogations are done without a lawyer present, or a parent if the suspect is a minor. This is how the police get you. But the one thing missing from this documentary is the Miranda Rights being read to the suspects. Especially the part about having a lawyer present.


Night time seems to be the time interrogations take place. At least on this show. They start at night and end in the early mornings. By the time they end, the suspect has confessed to a crime they didn’t commit. Why? Because they just want to get it over with. They are being led to believe if they tell what happened they will be able to leave or their sentence will be light. Depriving someone of sleep is a great tactic to get anyone to confess to anything. Slowly moving your chair to where you are now in someone face will produce the same thing.


Each episode focuses on a crime from beginning to end. From the victim to the arrest, the supposed confession, the trial and the eventual conviction of the suspect.

The first and second episode titled focuses on the murder of a family (mother, father, and sister) in which the son and his friend are suspected of committing the crime. The crime was committed in Canada in the mid-80’s. During that time to obtain a confession out of someone was done by any means necessary, even under false pretenses. Since then, Canada has made it illegal to get a confession under false pretenses.


One of the suspects in the killing named Glen Burns is approached by an undercover cop who presents himself as a mobster type person. This cop knows that Burns is a cocky person as well as being greedy, and he plays on this. The cop convinces Burns he’s a big-time gangster and asks if Burns wants in on a large take, to which Burns agrees. Fast-forward to a hotel room in which the undercover cop wants Burns to tell him something illegal he’s done. This is to make Burns seem trustworthy to the undercover cop.

After some time Burns starts talking about the murder of Rafays. Mind you, the undercover cop is trying to act like a tough guy by talking tough and using the F word every two seconds. He’s also trying to drag information out of Burns. After sometimes, he finally gets the full confession. But now he needs the song, Atif Rafay to confess to the crime as well. And he succeeds. All of this is caught on camera that is hidden in the hotel room. It’s been seven years since the murders and finally, Burns and Rafay have been caught.


Glen Burn and Atil Rafay

The confessions are played in court. Burns feels they have wrongly been accused of a crime and arrogantly states that in court. Rafay, on the other hand, is remorseful for his actions. Both get life in prison. But there’s a third party involved (not in the murders but having information about the murder due to Burns being narcissistic) that becomes the prosecutor’s star witness.  The witness had since moved to Japan to separate himself from the boys, but he’s coerced into returning to testify against Burns and Rafay.


Episodes 1 and 2 show one tactic the police use to get a confession out of someone. This time, the suspects were actually guilty. But what if the suspect is not guilty and they have told you over and over again they are innocent? What do you do to get a confession out of them? Well, you interrogate them for 10 or more hours. You plant seeds in their heads by putting them at the scene of the crime or giving them the motive to kill.

In each episode, we told how the victim died. Then we are introduced to the suspect or suspects in the crime. Afterwards, we are taken through the crime itself and how the suspect or suspects came to be. It’s after the reveal of the suspect or suspects the confession tape part of the show begins.

Some are held in interrogation rooms for up to 10 hours or more in which they are professing their innocence. One is a mother who is being accused of setting her 14-year-old daughter on fire. Another is a man accused of killing his girlfriend and the evidence the police have is a strand of his hair in her hand. And there are the seventeen young men accused of beating, and robbing, a 48-year-old woman, while one sodomised her with a foot long pole in the episode titled 8th and H. The episode reminded me of The Central Park Five.  The only difference is the arrests weren’t racially motivated, but everything else was similar.


I like The Confession Tapes. It reminds of Making A Murderer.  It explores the crimes and gives a good insight into the victim as well as the accused through family and friends. The show also explorers how innocent people or those presumed to be innocent are forced into confessions.  I hope this series wakes people up to the tactics used by law enforcement to have others confess to crimes they didn’t commit so the department can reach their quota or solve a crime quickly to make the townspeople happy. Or in the case of The West Memphis Three, how an upcoming election played a part in getting three boys convicted a crime they didn’t commit. However, some feel the boys, now men, are guilty of the crime. Read the full story here. 

I really enjoy the show and look forward to another season of The Confessions Tapes.

If you’ve seen the documentary share your thoughts in the comment section.

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