Juvenile Justice3

The tactics and the procedures that govern the interrogations of juveniles vary with each jurisdiction because they are based on the procedures of the individual department and the style of the questioning officer, but the one commonality is that they are the same ones used in adult interrogations. The most common interrogation tactic used by police is the Reid technique which was first developed in the 1940’s. Under these tactics, police rely on three concepts that are intended to lead the suspect to believe that confessing to the crime is in the suspect’s best interest. The first concept is isolation which consists of removing the individual from their family and friends in the hopes that it will make them feel all alone. The second is Maximization where the officers attempt to elicit a confession by telling the individual that they know they are guilty. In this phase the officer presents a theory of the crime and how the individual was involved, evidence if there is any, or in some instances the suggestion that there is evidence. The third is Minimization where the officer attempts to help the individual reconcile with the crime. In this phase the officer might show understanding of why the individual committed the crime (Mince-Dider, 2016). The potential problems presented with these tactics when questioning juveniles is similar to those found with them understanding their rights and the potential consequences associated with the waiver process. There has always been a debate over when juveniles are mature enough to fully comprehend the importance of what is going on. Research from one study has shown about one-third of a sample of institutional youths incorrectly believed that they had to talk with the police (Elrod, 2011). Combine that statistic, a juvenile’s perception that officers are always truthful, and that an adult or attorney do not have to be present if the right is waived and these tactics while not illegal or immoral could led a juvenile to falsely confess. The court has tried to mitigate the possible problems with these tactics. In the case of Fare v Michael C. the court attached Miranda and addressed another no longer used tactic, long interrogations with our breaks, applying the totality of the circumstance test. In the State v Benoit the court attached three factors to attempt to help: first clear and understandable explanation of rights, second they must be made aware of possible adult criminal prosecution and waiver if applicable, and third at the time of arrest the officer in charge must immediately secure the name of a friendly adult they can consult.
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In the 1967 ruling the Supreme Court ruled on the In re Gault case. That case was a landmark case involving juvenile rights. In that case the court ruled that a juvenile would be afforded the same rights as an adult. Also the court stated that “if counsel was not present for some permissible reason when an admission was obtained, the greatest care must be taken to assure that the admission was voluntary, in the sense not only that it was not coerced or suggested, but also that it was not the product of ignorance of rights or of adolescent fantasy, fright or despair” (Krzewinski, L. M. n.d  BUT I DIDN’T DO IT: PROTECTING).                        

Police in the past have interrogated juveniles as the same as an adult. A lot of departments have used the Reid technique when interviewing juveniles.  The Reid technique has three steps. The first is to bring the suspect in and isolate them in a small room with no windows. The second step the detective lets the suspect know that they are guilty. They tell them lies and lye about evidence that they have that confirms the suspect guilt. And last the detective buddies up to the offender and tells them more lies that everything is going to be ok and they understand why they committed the crime that they are talking about. This process will lead people who don’t understand what is going on to give a false confession. In the case of juveniles there have been several incidents that the detective conducting the interview will make false promises that if the juvenile admits to the crime that they will get to go home. After being in small room with a stranger a juvenile will say anything to get out of that room and go home. They don’t understand that they will not get to go home and the statement will be used against them in court. Police have learned from their mistakes and todays frontline departments have changed their tactics when it comes to interviewing juveniles.

As police we are sworn to uphold the law. We are the last defense for our way of life. If as law enforcement we don’t do our jobs with integrity and impartial biases then our system will fail the ones we swore to protect.  We have to understand that we are there to protect the victims and the offenders equally. We cannot bend the rules or operate in a gray area just to get a conviction. And when we deal with juveniles extra steps must be in place for their protection and the protection of the public


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