Wednesday, June 22, 2011

School House Interrogations by Police May be Thing of the Past

Nina Totenberg of NPR suggests that police interrogations at school have a nefarious aspect. Experts say that police questioning in school may no longer be presumed to be legally permissible without advising a youngster of his or her rights.

The recent U.S, Supreme Court decision in J.D.B. v. North Carolina gives a "real world" look at how police operate, Eugene O'Donnell, a former New York City Police officer, and now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice told Totenberg that the police investigator "took great pains to orchestrate an environment where he would not have to give the Miranda warnings," said O'Donnell. "A lot of people think that cops are dying to take out that Miranda card and read the rights to suspects. But in fact the police are very reticent to do that. They rely on … getting people to talk."

Steven Drizen, legal director at Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Conviction, calls Thursday's ruling "huge."

"This is the first time the court has applied Miranda to an interrogation that takes place in the schools, which is the site of many interrogations of children," Drizen told Totenberg. "This is huge because when police go to locate suspects who are children, the first place they often go is to their school. And many times, police officers will question suspects at the school under the belief that if they do so, then they don't have to apply Miranda because it's not a station-house interrogation. ... It's been a loophole ... and this decision will close that loophole."

Indeed, "juveniles make up a disproportionate number of those who falsely confess," added Drizen, citing recent studies that demonstrate juveniles account for fully one-third of wrongful convictions based on false confessions. "The pressures of police interrogations weigh much more heavily on a juvenile suspect than they do on an adult suspect" leading to "exponentially higher" false confession rates among juveniles, reorted NPR.

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1 comment:

rrgpsu said...

Since when are students free to leave the principal's office or not answer questions?  Certainly school discipline would follow.  What grade school student directed to the principal's office to be questioned by the principal and/or police would consider himself free to leave?  I agree with Mangino, a student in a school administrators office confronted by the police is in custody.

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