How the criminal justice system sets up kids for failure

The criminal justice system is surely not one size fits all. This can be especially true when it comes to serving youth. Unfortunately, many kids do not understand their rights when dealing with law enforcement, and their naivety can be used against them in court.

Here is how the criminal justice system fails kids during arrests and interrogations.

Few kids understand their Miranda rights

Suspects who are under arrest and being interrogated by the police must be read their ‘Miranda Warning’ or legal rights. But a University of North Texas study found that the reading of one’s rights is no straightforward matter. In fact, researchers found that there are over 900 different warnings being read by law enforcement officers across the country each varying in length and complexity.

As such, there should be no reasonable expectation that a juvenile suspect will understand any of the 900 variations they may hear. This can lead to unsuspecting kids inadvertently waiving their rights, which the study found nine out of ten kids do. Furthermore, if a child has an intellectual disability they may unable to comprehend their rights when compared to a child without an intellectual disability.

Juveniles are more likely to elicit false confessions

The National Registry of Exonerations reported that kids are two to three times more likely to provide a false confession than adults. Such false confessions can land kids in hot water fast.

But why would a kid falsely confess?

Juveniles often feel intimidated by authoritative figures and may feel required to speak to them. This can lead kids to provide false confessions when they don’t understand the repercussions of doing so. Cops may tell them that if they confess to the crime they will be allowed to go home. And unless a juvenile specifically requests a lawyer or a parent to be present, they are not legally required to be provided one in the interrogation room.

It is evident that the criminal justice system is anything but kid-friendly. Everybody deserves a fair trial; however, kids’ naivety can be exploited and used against them in court. Protect your child by educating them on their rights. When you empower your children, you do your part to ensure that they are informed as they interact with law enforcement.


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