Texas uses hypnosis to investigate crimes. Dallas death row inmates say it’s time to stop

Published in “The Dallas Morning News” (US) on May 15, 2018

Is hypnosis “junk science” that’s sent innocent men to their deaths, or a powerful investigative tool? One of the state’s most controversial investigative tools is about to be tested.

AUSTIN — For many people, the word “hypnosis” evokes images of swinging pocket watches, swirling vortexes and impressionable subjects mesmerized by movie villains.

They think of Get Out, The Manchurian Candidate, even Office Space.

Texas has the most robust forensic hypnosis program in the country, training police officers across the state to sharpen or recall crime witnesses’ lost memories. As more and more states ban the practice, law enforcement here turns to it at least a dozen times a year.

Now, two Dallas-area death row inmates are arguing it’s time to stop. Their executions have been delayed as they fight their convictions, which they claim were based on “junk science.”

“Once you have, at a minimum, serious questions that a technique sent a man to death row, you need to change the way you use that technique,” Gregory Gardner, an attorney who has defended both men, told The Dallas Morning News. Hypnosis “does so much more harm to innocent people than getting guilty people behind bars.”

Is forensic hypnosis quackery that’s sent innocent men to their deaths, or a powerful law enforcement technique that can crack open cold cases? One of the state’s most controversial investigative tools is about to be tested. [Read more on “The Dallas Morning News”]

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