Polygraphs: 'An Investigative Tool'

February 24, 2001
In response to the healthy debate on the message boards about Mikai taking a polygraph test, Jamie Skeeters, president of the California Association of Polygraph Examiners, would like to clarify:

"Polygraph is an investigative tool — no more, no less. It's not perfect, but it's the best tool we have in our society to help us decipher the truth from something false," Mr. Skeeters says. "Yes, it can be beat. DNA and fingerprints are not 100 percent perfect either .... nor is brain surgery." People should not think polygraph is the absolute truth; it's not. But research has proven it to be accurate 90 plus percent of the time." After the results of Mikai's polygraph were revealed, he admitted that he had been lying, and then confessed to further wrongdoing. A polygraph test does not measure emotions; it measures fear. It works by measuring physiological responses like heartbeat, lungs and skin reactions to certain relevant issues. According to the medical profession, there are approximately 25 physiological responses that are affected in the "fight-freeze or run" syndrome. The polygraph is merely a combination of several very sensitive scientific instruments designed to indicate and record these changes. If a person being examined is not telling the truth, even the slightest fear of being discovered stimulates body changes. Research also indicates that there is no such thing as a false-positive or false-negative result. To insure accurate answers, the test is methodically given over the course of three hours, with very specific questions asked so there are no misunderstandings. Polygraphs results are accepted in courts in several different states if both attorneys agree, particularly in post-conviction sex offender cases.

Mr. Skeeters has been using polygraph test for criminal investigations for over 30 years. He is one of approximately 50 certified examiners in the state who is qualified to administer post-conviction sex offenders. He continues advance training throughout the year to maintain his certification. It is important to be aware that there are some polygraph examiners who are not certified and do not keep up with the necessary training. The test is only as good as the examiner. He adds, "I am an interrogator. I get confessions. Polygraph is one of the tools I use."