Book Launch in China: Pre-trial Detention & Police Interrogation

Book Launch in China:
Pre-trial Detention & Police Interrogation


On May 29, 2018, the U.S.-Asia Law Institute (USALI) of NYU School of Law held a book launch for the release of their two newest publications, Questioning Police Interrogation Methods: A Comparative Study and The Evolution of Pretrial Detention Law: A Comparative Study.  These two books are products of multi-year projects undertaken by USALI, featuring a variety of articles written by leading legal scholars, social scientists and law practitioners from the U.S., the UK and P.R. China about the important and evolving fields of pretrial detention and police interrogation methods.

The Books: A Comparative Look at Pre-trial Detention & Police Interrogation

To reach a broader audience, both books are published in Chinese and English. USALI staff compiled and translated the articles within the books with an eye toward sharing lessons and experiences among jurisdictions facing similar challenges.  The Evolution of Pretrial Detention Law covers the history and practice of pretrial release and detention in the U.S. and the development of it in China. Meanwhile, Questioning Police Interrogation Methods offers analyses on recent studies of the causes of false confession and a road-map to eliminating coercion in police interrogation. 


Questioning Police Interrogation Methods carefully examines the constitutional background of the privilege against self-incrimination and issues related to Miranda warnings in American criminal justice system. After analyzing the causes of false confessions and the resulting danger of wrongful convictions, the book offers a hopeful solution by detailing the “investigative interview,” or ‘PEACE’ method commonly used in the UK, where twenty-five years have passed since the last reported false confession.


The Evolution of Pretrial Detention Law introduces the history and origin of bail in the Anglo-American legal system, as well as more recent developments in the U.S. where cash bail has been increasingly challenged and scrutinized. China’s criminal justice system traditionally used to detain almost all defendants who are accused of any crime regardless of their risk of flight or recidivism. But, following the 2012 amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law, Chinese prosecutors have begun reviewing pretrial detention decisions to determine whether there is necessity to do so. Some Chinese jurisdictions have adopted creative alternatives to pretrial detention for juveniles and defendants charged with minor crimes.

The Book Launch

At the book launch held at Beijing Normal University, friends of USALI, leading Chinese criminal procedure law scholars, the publisher of both books – China Law Press – and contributors to the books gathered to discuss their contributions to the books, their reflections on one another’s work and the latest developments in China, the U.S. and the UK in the fields of interrogation and pretrial detention. 

Ira Belkin in dialogue

The book launch began with introductory remarks from Professor WANG Xiumei, of Beijing Normal University’s College for Criminal Law Science and USALI Executive Director Ira Belkin.  Professor Wang went over the history of cooperation between USALI and Beijing Normal University, and specifically introduced the events on pretrial detention and wrongful conviction which later inspired the publication of two books. Professor Belkin thanked all the contributors to the books for their invaluable contributions, and Beijing Normal University for hosting this event. He stated “I am confident that the groundbreaking research, comprehensive commentary and imaginative proposals in these books will stimulate further progress in the rule of law in both China and the United States.” Remarks were also made by Dr. WANG Xukun from China Law Press, and esteemed host and contributor to one of the books, Professor SONG Yinghui.

Dr. Andy Griffiths and Professor Richard Leo, who both contributed to Questioning Police Interrogation Methods and accompanied USALI to China for a series of lectures, shared with the audience the background, context, and content of their chapters.  Professor Leo focused on risk factors for police-induced false confessions and failures in preventing them in the first place and detecting them when they occur. In his two chapters, Professor Leo also pointed out the problem with the presumption of guilt in trying to obtain confessions from suspects, which leads to an over-reliance on confession evidence by police. Dr. Griffiths reviewed the evolution of interrogation methods in the UK: from a confession-driven confrontational approach to an information-gathering investigative approach. He noted, one of the most important parts of the UK’s journey was a commitment by senior police officers to the training programs which implement the PEACE model mandated by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) . He also introduced the development of interview methods in the UK and recent findings of the effects of advanced training on police performance. To conclude, Mr. Ira Belkin briefly introduced the three major parts of the book: 1) fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination and Miranda , which lay the foundation of voluntariness test for confession and admissions; 2) findings based on many years’ social science research that neither Miranda nor fifth amendment rights are sufficient to prevent false confessions; and 3) practice in the UK that offers a path forward to reform the system and culture of law enforcement.

Professor Richard Leo (center)

Professor Richard Leo (center)

The presentations from Dr. Griffiths and Professor Leo led to a series of rich responses from the invited guests, each of whom is a leading Chinese criminal procedure expert.  Professor LIU Fangquan (Fujian Normal University School of Law) pointed out the differences in mindsets of police and lawyers and spoke about China’s experience and difficulties in improving interrogation techniques, comparing it with British experience. Professor GU Yongzhong of China University of Political Science and Law took a ‘foreign expert’s perspective’ in comparing the systemic differences between the U.S. and UK models of interrogation. 

Professor SONG Yinghui then discussed the topic of pretrial detention. He summarized recent developments in pretrial detention in China and specifically pointed out the relationship between the rate of pretrial detention and recent prosecutorial reforms. Prosecutor DAN Wei, who contributed a chapter and the preface to The Evolution of Pretrial Detention Law reiterated that the appropriate purpose of pretrial detention is the ensure the presence of the accused at trial and to protect public safety and stated, given the serious collateral consequences of pretrial detention, that reviewing the necessity of pretrial detention must be taken seriously by prosecutors. Professor SHI Limei (Beijing Normal University School of Law) followed up with Professor Dan’s comment by introducing two important components of efforts of reduce pretrial detention rates: 1) secure and effective alternatives to pretrial detention; and 2) an effective pretrial risk assessment mechanism. As a contributor to the book, Prosecutor LI Hongliang (prosecutor of Guangzhou Huadu district People’s Procuratorate) expressed his belief that increasing the use of non-custodial detention measures would require  reforms to the prosecutor evaluation system which currently regards detention necessity review as a major assessment metric for prosecutors. 

USALI Staff at the book launch.

USALI Staff at the book launch.

USALI and its staff have worked on these two subjects for many years. The Institute’s research scholars LIU Chao, Amy Gao, and YIN Chi also spoke at the book launch, presenting their findings on the limits of Miranda, current U.S. law and practice regarding mandatory electronic recording of custodial interrogations, and an update on the state of pretrial justice reform efforts across the U.S., including attempts to abolish cash bail.

These books are available on the USALI website:



为了方便更多的读者阅读,该两本书都是中英双语。亚美法研究所的工作人员以分享不同法域处理类似挑战的经验和教训为着眼点,编撰翻译里书中收录的文章。《审前羁押制度演变的比较研究》涵盖了美国审前羁押和释放的历史和司法实践,以及该制度在中国的发展演 变。同时,《追问警察讯问方法——比较法的视角》分析了关于虚假供述成因的最新研究,并提供了消除警察讯问中的胁迫问题的解决方案。






安迪•格雷菲斯博士和理查德•里奥教授与在场各位分享了他们在《追问警察讯问方法——比较法的视角》中各自文章的写作背景、问题的社会和法律背景,以及简要内容。他们两位这次也专程随同亚美法研究所来到中国做了一些列讲座。里奥教授主要讨论了风险因素在警察诱供,预防诱供失败以及识别诱供三种情景中的作用。在他撰写的两篇文章中,里奥教授还指出为了获取嫌疑人有罪供述背后的有罪推定问题,导致警察对口供证据的过度依赖。格雷菲斯博士回顾了英国警察讯问方法的演变,如何从以获取口供为目的的对抗性模式转变为以搜集信息为目的的调查性模式。他指出,英国历程的一个重要方面是,1984年《警察和刑事证据法》要求必须采用PEACE五步讯问方法,资深警官对专门针对这种讯问方法的培训项目相当信奉。他还介绍了英国警察最新调查讯问方法的进展,以及对已经通过基本培训的警察进行深入培训的效果的最新研究成果。在发布会的最后,柏恩敬教授简要介绍了该书的三个主要部分:1. 作为被告人供述和自认中自愿原则基石的美国宪法第五修正案不自证其罪的权利和米兰达规则;2. 基于多年来的社会学研究发现,米兰达规则和第五修正案均不不足以防止虚假供述;3. 英国的做法为我们提供了改善执法部门中警察文化和系统问题的一个道路参考。