Legal Aid Society


LAS: Video Recording of Youth Interrogations Not Enough

Later this year, a New York state law will take effect that requires law enforcement to record all interrogations of minors, but youth must have consult with a lawyer before being allowed to waive their Miranda rights, according to Dawne Mitchell, the Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice.

Young people do not understand the full implications of waiving their constitutional right to remain silent and are more likely to confess to crimes they did not commit. Thirty-six percent of DNA exonerees falsely confessed to crimes when they were children.

“There’s virtually no real legal difference or procedural difference between interrogation of children and interrogation of adults,” Mitchell told The Appeal.

Young people with parents able to afford to hire private counsel will rarely waive their Miranda rights, while poor youth from communities of color bear the full brunt of coercive police interrogations. Recognizing that providing all youth with counsel prior to interrogations will increase fairness and reduce false confessions, New York lawmakers are considering this legislation. The bill passed the state’s Senate Children and Families Committee and is now with the Finance Committee.