Getting arrested: Kidnapping and Contract Law

If I kidnap you and put you in a cell for 12 to 24 hours where you are prevented from sleeping, possibly degraded, and lack access to proper food, then ask you to sign a contract – I’m guilty of a serious offence, and the contract would be considered invalid in a court of law. But, if I’m the police and I arrest someone, prevent them from sleeping or eating properly in a holding cell, and drag them to a bail hearing the next day – whatever they sign is considered obviously legally binding.

Even if one does not want to challenge the legitimacy of the police, shouldn’t one be concerned that someone once arrested might be persuaded to sign something under conditions of duress? Why is it acceptable for the police to use duress and intimidation to extract a signature on a document? How many have been wrongly put in jail due to false confessions they were persuaded to sign by police who were terrorizing them?

If we believe in the rights of the individual, I don’t understand how we can fail to accord the right to sleep and eat properly to prisoners – a fortiori prisoners who have not been proven guilty of a crime.


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