Legal Aid Society


Op-Ed: Young New Yorkers Must Have a Right to Counsel Before Police Interrogations

Dawne Mitchell, Attorney-in-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society, penned a joint op-ed in The Imprint calling on state lawmakers to pass S2800/A5891, legislation to ensure that young New Yorkers’ have access to an attorney before being interrogated by the police. The op-ed was co-authored by Latoya Joyner, New York Assemblymember for 77th district in the Bronx, and Jamaal Bailey, New York State Senator for the 36th District in the Bronx.

The call for change comes as public support builds for the #Right2RemainSilent campaign – a coalition of concerned parents, youth activists, legal advocates and New York lawmakers – reflecting the growing recognition of the horrific injustices engendered by no-holds-barred interrogations of minors. Research overwhelmingly suggests that juveniles are distinctly susceptible to coercive interrogation tactics, and are much more likely than adults to confess under pressure to crimes they have not committed.

“Without legal counsel, minors who get caught up in the criminal justice system will continue to compromise their rights — and potentially their lives,” the letter states. “S2800 and A5891 will ensure that all youth — including the predominantly Black and brown youth who are too often the targets of police interrogation — will have the benefit of an attorney protecting their right to remain silent.”

Read the full piece here.