Monday, January 14, 2013

Overcoming Miranda (Domanico, Cicchini & White)

The authors analyzed the Miranda portions of electronically recorded police interrogations in serious felony cases.  The objectives were to determine what percentage of suspects waived their rights, whether the suspects understood their rights before waiving them, and whether the police employed any tactics to induce the suspects to waive their rights.  The results of the study revealed that 93% of suspects waived their Miranda rights and talked to the police.  Further, it is unlikely that those suspects understood their rights; in fact, the police used a version of the Miranda warning that required a reading level that far exceeded that of most suspects, and the police did very little to ensure that suspects actually understood their rights before waiving them.  Finally, the police spoke significantly faster when reading suspects their Miranda rights, and, in more than half of the interrogations, also minimized the importance of the rights.  Both of these tactics likely limited the suspects’ comprehension of the rights and their importance, and likely induced them to waive, rather than invoke, their rights.  These findings are largely consistent with the limited number of other social science studies that have been published, and raise serious doubt about whether suspects’ waivers are truly voluntary, knowing, and intelligent, as required by Miranda.  Based on these findings, the authors also recommend specific reforms to the Miranda process.  Full article available here.  

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