Legal Aid Society


#Right2RemainSilent Campaign Aims to Protect Youth Interrogated by Police

Youth, parents, juvenile justice advocates, elected officials, public defender organizations, faith leaders, and others announced the formation of the #Right2RemainSilent campaign, a statewide coalition to secure passage of legislation (S.2800/A.5891) that will codify young New Yorkers’ right to counsel before a police interrogation, reports THE CITY.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Jamaal Bailey and Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, modifies the Family Court Act and Criminal Procedure Law to ensure that a child under age 18 may only be interrogated by law enforcement after the young person has consulted with counsel, thereby ensuring any waiver of rights under Miranda is genuinely knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.

The statute already authorizes interrogations only when “necessary.” The bill also clarifies that a custodial interrogation of a child may be deemed necessary only when there is a risk of harm to the child or others.

Ever since the Exonerated Five were interrogated as youth and coerced into false confessions more than 30 years ago, New York State has failed to curb deceptive interrogation tactics used by the police.

Instead, young people, who lack the capacity to fully understand Miranda warnings and fully appreciate the long-term consequences of their decisions, continue to be subjected to coercive interrogations by law enforcement.

This bill would ensure that all youth, including the predominantly Black and Latinx youth who are too often the targets of police interrogation, have the benefit of an attorney protecting their right to remain silent.

“This legislation would provide long-overdue protections for our vulnerable Black and Latinx clients. Young people are not able to comprehend the Miranda warnings, or the consequences of waiving their right to remain silent,” said Dawne Mitchell, Attorney-in-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society.