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King County rolls out Miranda rights tailored for young people (kuow.org)
183 points by curtis on Sept 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 126 comments

If they are concerned enough about unnecessarily ruining lives to change the Miranda warning, why not focus more on exercising the most powerful tool we have in our criminal justice system: prosecutorial discretion? After all, the cops reading the Miranda warning can only bring people to jail; it’s the prosecutors that keep them there.

Prosecutors have the ability to not file cases at all. They also have the ability to offer diversion programs, wherein accused criminals can voluntarily agree to community-based sanctions/supervision in exchange for their cases not being filed. These do exist in some jurisdictions today, but tend to be offered to a very small percentage of defendants.

In short: if they really cared about ruining lives, they’d stop trying so hard to ruin lives (in all but the most serious cases). Changing the Miranda warning may be a very small step forward, but getting prosecutors on board is the only way to make a real difference.

King County is already using prosecutorial discretion to reduce the number of criminal prosecutions that lead to jail and have been for some time.

Not claiming that we shouldn't do more work here but the Miranda warning changes are in tandem with other improvements here.


King County (especially Redmond/Bellevue, home of Amazon and Microsoft) is one of the wealthiest, low-crime areas in the country; I remember someone telling me that Redmond has the highest density of millionaires in the country.

If anything, King County's judicial system doesn't need this kind of help, yet I saw the high budget of the police force when I lived there a block away from the station with its top-of-the-line equipment, education programs, and community involvement. We should be trying to bring this kind of judicial reform and fairness to areas that really need like it like the south-side of Chicago, where there are at least two murders a day.

Couldn't you frame this as, "Kudos, King County, this is a great thing that will help improve the lives of people in King County. Let's try to get it in Chicago, where there are even bigger gains to be made."?

Mine was a more of a blanket statement for the entire country. In most jurisdictions, prosecutors are as vicious as the law allows them to be.

They are vicious because they are incentivized to be so, their success is determined by their prosecution rate. If you incentivize good people to do bad things they will do bad things. The question is, what other metric can you measure them by to determine how "successful" they are?

EDIT: grammars

Is it possible that metrics are a bad way to determine success relative to actually looking into and understanding the situation? The latter is certainly more work. The former is certainly a lower resolution understanding.

Are we certain that any metrics communicate anything meaningful about "successful" performance in the realm of prosecution?

There are obviously better ways to judge a public servant's performance than a handful of decontextualized numbers — but unless you're going to force people to take a test before they can vote (which, umm…), what criteria are best doesn't matter as much as what criteria are most easily communicated.

No one ever got fired for buying IBM, nor for prosecuting someone. They have been fired though, for buying a cheaper solution, or for exercising discretion. Look at what happened to Dukakis...

I've noticed this is an unfortunately common trope on HN.

"If they actually cared about X, they'd Y!"

I think what you mean to say is: "If they really cared about X, and only X, and had no political/financial/strategic impediments, they'd do Y! Therefore they clearly don't care about X."

Let's not have the perfect be the enemy of the good. This is a good thing, let's encourage more of it, yeah?

To quote another comment "prosecutors are as vicious as the law allows them to be".

That's their job.

* Legislators create the law. (legislative branch)

* Prosecutors sue for enforcement of the law. (executive branch)

* Judgement to use JUDGEment in applying the law. (judical branch)

If you have sucky laws or indescriminate judges, fix those. Don't cast dispersions on prosecutors for prosecuting laws they didn't write, for sentences they don't make.

Not maintaining the balance of powers is how you wind up with out-of-whack and mismanaged governments.


EDIT: Prosecutors are the inverse of defense attornies. Why is the DA defending this scumbag of a human being?!?! Because that's their job: provide the best possible defense for accused criminals. Likewise, prosecutors provide the best possible prosecution. Denegrating either one for their role is misunderstanding their functions in the judical system.

Even in an adversarial system, the point of prosecutors is not to be "as vicious as the law allows them to be". The point is to pursue actual crime as vigorously as they can. Instead, we are seeing repeated instances of prosecutorial misconduct where the prosecutor's office tries to win the case on a legal technicality, even when it's actually counter to the basic goal of justice (i.e. establishing the truth of charges) - by, for example, trying to place procedural hurdles in the way of procedures, like DNA tests, that might exonerate the defendant, or withholding evidence that might indicate innocence, but which the prosecutor is not legally obligated to introduce. Here's a recent example:


There's absolutely no social good coming out of such behavior, and it should be pointed out and castigated.

And yes, this does, in fact, happen, because prosecutors are effectively rewarded for successful prosecutions, regardless of the false positive rate.

> prosecutor's office tries to win the case on a legal technicality

Curious: By that token, how do you feel about DA's trying to win cases on legal technicalities. Are they living up to the expectations of their job?

I don't think there needs to be parity between the prosecution and defense in this matter. Those technicalities on the defense side serve to help protect the rights of the accused, while on the prosecution side they just obscure the truth of the matter.

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.”

This is not unavoidable, but a specific aspect of America's incarnation of the adversarial system. In plenty of other jurisdictions, prosecutors have a more neutral, quasi-judicial role, where – especially during the investigative phase of a case – they are required to act more like French examining magistrates. In some jurisdictions, prosecutors can even have an affirmative duty to act on the behalf of the defendant if they believe that the defendant is not receiving a fair trial.

There are also pragmatic issues; prosecutorial accountability matters even in adversarial systems (accountability not in the sense of dealing with prosecutorial misconduct, but to ensure that prosecutors act consistently and in the public interest). Prosecutors aren't or shouldn't be free agents.

Be careful though, this is an easy argument into "just following orders." Which, nobody should ever be comfortable with that argument.

No, this is a distinct argument. It's that this system was designed to function best when everyone does their jobs. Attorneys in the US are supposed to be zealous advocates. The judge and jury don't know going in whether the person did it or not, but the hope is that if the prosecutor fights their hardest (even if the accused is innocent) and the defense attorney fights their hardest (even if their client is guilty) that hopefully ultimately the one that comes out ahead will be the one that's right. It's not a perfect system, but this is how it's meant to work.

That is the exact same argument. Just instead of "lawyer" pick "any government job."

And be clear that was never the case. Prosecutorial discretion is and has almost always been the case.

I could just as easily claim that attorneys in the US are supposed to be about upholding the spirit, as much as the letter, of the law.

The system wasn't "designed" in any such manner. The system is the sum of myriad accretions of laws and precedent over the course of centuries. This idea that there is a design with a purpose for which anything is meant reminds us of the "intelligent design" take on biological evolution. In this case, however, the history is clearly written in records recorded in English at the time that each such accretion took place, rather than locked up in obscure geologic formations.

It's the same argument. Someone created a system and I'm just doing my assigned part to keep it going without having to decide if it's a good system or not == just following orders.

That's fair.

That said, if we're focusing on the most effective change like downandout, we should be changing the orders, not expecting each person to each adjust them, hopefully in appropriate ways.

Depends on efficiency measure. In both cases, you have to train enforcement on proper enforcement. So, really, you don't save much. (Any?)

It is idealistic to think you can make perfect laws that are easily understood by anyone such that training isn't necessary.

And most importantly they should understood by judges.

No, being vicious is not their job, despite the fact that most of them think that it is their job and conduct themselves accordingly. Rather, the responsibility of a prosecutor is to seek justice - that means pursuing appropriate, reasonable outcomes based upon specific conduct and evidence in each case. It does not mean intimidating witnesses, manufacturing evidence, overcharging defendants so that they plead guilty lest they face decades in prison for relatively minor criminal infractions, and all of the other evil things that many prosecutors do. These things are a perversion of justice, engaged in by evil, selfish people looking for personal career advancement by inflicting misery on others at taxpayer expense.

Prosecutors are as vicious as the people who elect them.

Or to be more exact it's very hard for a DA to be elected when they appear to be lenient on crime.

The prosecution and the policing parts of the criminal justice system can quite easily be influenced through the popular vote.

And that's at the heart of all these problems. People are vicious, especially when they're in large groups making decisions that they don't need to feel even remotely accountable for. Oddly enough, I'm not trying to make a small-government or anti-democracy point in general: this is probably the least vicious we as a species have managed to make ourselves behave.

Don't fix prosecutors, fix judges!

Where do you think judges come from? A judge who doesn't believe all the bullshit that prosecutors believe, is a rare judge indeed.

A prosecutors job is not to convict as many people as possible. This would suggest going after minor crimes where the cases are short vs. major crimes which takes more effort.

Their job is to see justice for the harm to society which is not benefited by sending innocent people to prison.

Until they remove career-advancing incentives for prosecutors that are tied to case outcomes and numbers of filings, this probably won't happen.

And since CA is the example: you also remove the prosecutorial discretion when you codify things like mandatory minimum sentences.

Ummm....WA actually, as in Seattle. But you're still not wrong since we have mandatory minimums here as well.

> Ummm....WA actually, as in Seattle.

Give it a few more years...

And then we'll be CA for Cascadia, the newest Canadian province!

I agree with you, but there is something that most people aren't aware of: if you're booked into a jail, that record stays with you forever, regardless of whether you are formally charged or not. I think that is what they're trying to prevent by this measure, which is absolutely amazing.

Other good things: if police don't think they can make a good enough case, it will free them up to focus on more serious crimes. Youth won't be placed in the same holding cell as rapists, murderers etc. Less public resources spent on keeping people in jail.

It used to be when you were filling out job applications, you'd get asked if you were ever convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors.

I've seen on more than a few applications in the last couple years, the question has changed to "have you ever been arrested for or convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors?"

Scary stuff. Once you've been booked, you might as well be guilty.

Because of the way our criminal justice system works employers should not be able to ask this question. If they want to ask about convictions that's fine but accusations is unreasonable.

Prosecutorial discretion is only that important because the rest of the criminal justice system (including the laws themselves) is so broken.

A truly healthy system would not allow an overzealous DA to get far.

Absolutely, there is a great Ezra Klein show podcast on this topic, I would recommend everyone listen. I'm on mobile so can't link but if you search "Ezra Klein show prosecutor discretion" it should come up.

Yes! This was an extremely enlightening listen.

> If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and Probation Officer what you tell me.

It's missing the explicit warning that "what you say can and will be used against you in the court of law." I think they should add a clause to the end stating "and they can use this information against you to get you in trouble."

This video is always relevant when the subject of talking to police comes up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

Agreed. This seems like an important clarification, because without it it sounds like talking with the police officer can't have serious negatives.

The Miranda warning is "Anything you say MAY be used against you in a court of law." It may not...

But it definitely won't be used in your favor so keep silent and never answer questions from law enforcement without a lawyer present.

I always thought it was "CAN and WILL be use against you."

That's just what they say in Hollywood. Common mistake that I wager most folks would report it says as well.

Why just youth? I can't see how it would hurt to switch to this for everyone. You can get your free lawyer to explain in adult-speak later.

Protecting youth from failures of justice is a more palatable political stance than protecting adults (which is no longer "hard on crime")?

I'm pretty conservative and I can't imagine how having someone understand their constitutional rights would be unpalatable to anyone on either side of the aisle. I want to be tough on criminals but you are only a criminal after you have received your due process and have been found guilty of a crime.

I think the problem is not how understandable it is, but how robotic it is. This recitation of Miranda is so driven into our heads from TV and movies that I don't think anyone would bother to parse it.

If the language got "friendlier", I think the same thing would happen over the span of years-- again, if it was said exactly the same way, every time.

Of course, if the cop mixes it up and uses different words and intonation, now they're opening themselves up to liability.

> I want to be tough on criminals but you are only a criminal after you have received your due process and have been found guilty of a crime.

That is sadly not a typical viewpoint, particularly among conservatives.

Every conservative I know and whose viewpoints I'm familiar with holds that viewpoint. I would go even further to say most people I know in general hold that viewpoint. In fact, the few people I know that are quick to find people guilty in the court of public opinion are not conservatives.

If I were to tell you that an unarmed black man was shot by police, and that most people in one political party thought this was bad and most people in the other political party condemned people who protested the shooting, do you think you could guess which political party is which?

Heck, look at Joe Arpaio, who recently got pardoned for unconstitutionally targeting Hispanic people who haven't been convicted of any crime. Which party was generally in favor of this, and which party was strongly against? Again, the same parties as the first case.

The conservative movement in America — even a lot of people in the "small government" basket of the movement — has a huge blind spot when it comes to the police.

You may be interested to know that the Koch Brothers are leading the charge for criminal justice reform:


Which doesn't mean a lot of "conservatives" aren't blind to the police. But there are a large number of them who do realize the vast overreach of law enforcement, while trying to understand the best way to ensure our streets remain safe.

>Heck, look at Joe Arpaio, who recently got pardoned for unconstitutionally targeting Hispanic people who haven't been convicted of any crime. Which party was generally in favor of this, and which party was strongly against? Again, the same parties as the first case.

Look at Obama and title nine where kangaroo courts violate due process on a national scale, violating the constitutional rights of american citizens no less. You can't simply point at the worst actors in a group of people and say they represent the whole, but I'd like to point out that Obama was elected via a national majority of democrats while Joe Arpaio was elected via the votes of a single district.

I'm not pointing to the worst actors in a group of people and saying they represent the whole. I'm pointing to whether this group of people actually thinks these actions are "the worst." The evidence (e.g. https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/08/25/politics-pardoning-...) suggests they generally do not.

And while I agree with you about Title IX kangaroo courts, I think that's kind of a strained comparison both in terms of the specifics of that situation and in how broadly it seems to indicate support for "tough" law enforcement.

Obama was not elected with Title IX process reform as his primary platform item. It was made into a bigger item after his election, but even then mostly on right-wing platforms. Few people are even aware of that controversy inside the blue bubble.

Arpaio was convicted on contempt of court specifically over unconstitutionally depriving people of their due process rights. Insofar as anyone can have any opinion about his case, and the associated pardon, that issue is at the front and center of it. Thus, anyone expressing support for Arpaio is necessarily expressing disdain for due process.

As Cyril Figgis said, "It's like comparing apples to Nazi oranges."

It's important to remember that while everyone has the same constitutional rights, they're not always equally applied. Miranda rights (and improvements to them) have the greatest effect on poor and minority groups. These groups often don't vote (a separate issue), but when they do, which political party do they vote for?

In fact, the few people I know that are quick to find people guilty in the court of public opinion are not conservatives.

This is, of course, such an obvious softball to those ready to trot out "no true Scotsman" that even mentioning it seems trite. I've known plenty that would argue "if you got arrested, you're probably guilty of something" that I would consider to be conservative. But you're probably arguing the division between "cranky old people that wish it were 1954 again" (the kind I'm thinking of) and small government/low tax/personal responsibility kind of conservative.

I think there are two senses of "conservative" used in this thread: "likely voters for the US Republican party" and "actual conservatives, who are aligned towards small government / libertarianism / something". Hence the disagreement.

What I fail to understand is why libertarian-leaning people continue to vote Republican. Neither party is going to give them small government, but at least one of them is honest about it.

I'm sympathetic to the libertarian cause, even ran for office as a Libertarian, and at this point I can't conceive of voting Republican without taking a shower.

Lots of libertarians agree with common Republican positions on the top priorities of government functions (national defense, enforcing a particular view of property rights), but disagree on whether government should be doing other things at all. That's one reason.

When it comes to national defense, how are the mainstream positions of the two parties fundamentally any different? Sure you can find some disarmament liberals, but the neoconservative movement is much more vocal and would seem much more counterproductive.

> When it comes to national defense, how are the mainstream positions of the two parties fundamentally any different?

There are some differences, but the point I was making wasn't about the defense position itself as the position of defense relative to other government priorities.

> the neoconservative movement is much more vocal and would seem much more counterproductive

Neoconservatism can be viewed (at least in it's overt priorities; the concrete methods often seem to contradict this, at least in the short term) as aggressive exportation of the kind of government priorities on which right-libertarians and the broader right tend to agree.

Libertarians are, it seems to me, more united in the role of the state vis-a-vis it's own citizenry than it's role vis-a-vis other states, and there seem to be both nationalist (our government should provide us liberty, but maximize our collective position where dealing with outsiders) and internationalist (our government must as a matter of fundamental principle reflect our libertarian ideals, and so must all governments) strains of libertarianism that are compatible with the kind of aggressive foreign policy that neoconservatism embraces.

"Actual conservative", that's the no true Scottsman fallacy; everyone who self identifies as a conservative is a conservative, regardless of how well they stick to those values.

> Actual conservative", that's the no true Scottsman fallacy

Using the term “conservative” to refer to a well-defined ideology rather than a self-identification isn't inherently No True Scotsman.

(In fact the “everyone who self identifies as a conservative is a conservative” approach is often used to make arguments about a defined ideology based on people who self-identify as “conservative” but don't adhere to the features of the ideology under discussion, which is he fallacy of equivocation [0].)

> Using the term “conservative” to refer to a well-defined ideology rather than a self-identification isn't inherently No True Scotsman.

Correct it isn't inherently that when the topic is the ideology, but when the topic is x group of people it is. This thread isn't about conservative ideology, it's about how people who identify as conservatives feel about criminals and due process so pulling out the "actual" conservatives line is no true Scottsman here. It's a bullshit excuse to avoid facing the hypocrisy of what people who call themselves conservatives believe.

Conservatives support Joe Arpio, conservatives claim to support due process, these two things conflict; Joe Arpio doesn't support due process, he robs people of it. If you support Arpio, you do not support due process.

Yes, I meant to imply some amount of no-true-Scotsman in that rephrasing. On the one hand, I sympathize with the desire to define "conservative" in a way in which words actually mean things and it isn't just "I like the way I feel when I call myself 'conservative'", but it's also very easy to dismiss positions by saying "Well, that's not a real conservative."

>That is sadly not a typical viewpoint, particularly among conservatives.

I consider those people as more GOP enthusiasts than conservatives. An example of a true conservative would be someone like Tucker Carlson or Rand Paul. It's sort of like how antifa doesn't represent the majority of democrat voters I have encountered. They are a slim minority of loud voices that muddy the waters.

> It's sort of like how antifa doesn't represent the majority of democrat voters I have encountered.

That is rather an understatement. It's not just they don't represent the majority - many of them are, in fact, opposed to said majority. Google "liberals get the bullet too".

> It's sort of like how antifa doesn't represent the majority of democrat voters I have encountered.

It would be fascinating if they represented even a minority of the democratic voters you've encountered. They don't seem like they'd be even a statistical blip on the radar.

They're all conservatives. A conservative is someone who self identifies as a conservative, that's really all that matters. Antifa are liberals, radical extreme liberals that seem to have a problem with free speech, but liberals none the less.

This is why the "We're a nation of laws"[0] statements (from many individuals) referring to DACA recipients and illegal immigrants concerns me, there is no way that law enforcement has the resources to simultaneously prosecute all infractions, nor would we want to, but its very easy to be for an overly zealous justice system when it impacts people you are not fond of but doesn't impact you. I would say we're all guilty of that in some ways, but it shows a total disregard for humanity I think to think that just because a law exists that it needs to be enforced blindly regardless of whether the enforcement of said law actually benefits society and whether the lack of enforcement would negatively affect society. There are plenty of laws that we don't enforce and shouldn't that are/were used to disenfranchise certain minorities [1], and just throwing your hands up and saying "we're a nation of laws" is dishonest at best.

[0] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/05/state... [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy_laws_in_the_United_Stat...

I get the feeling that you don't know many people who disagree with you, and this comment is based more on stereotypes of what somebody might believe instead of what real people actually do believe.

I'm surrounded by conservatives. I live in a conservative state, from a conservative family, and my primary hobby is very popular with conservatives.

I'll acknowledge that I was wrong.

>I can't imagine how having someone understand their constitutional rights would be unpalatable to anyone on either side of the aisle.

If someone is promoting something very obviously wrong, they're usually making money off of it. Jeff Sessions, of course, rescinded the order to phase out private prisons. Citizens, such as yourself, can have your own ideas on what it means to be tough on crime. For politicians, it just means they want to trade lives for money.


So how did you feel about Joe Arpio's tent city jail and chain gangs for the inmates? Virtually every conservative I've ever known supports it.

Agree - it makes sense to roll this out to everyone, particularly as you can't always tell if an individual is mentally impaired in some way.

I'd say it's just that the specific wording has Supreme Court precedence to back up its' validity, and while they would probably look favorably upon making it clearer for children, rewriting it because it doesn't seem clear enough would entail too much cities battling the courts for small changes. Leniency and interpretation is something that many in society agree upon when it comes to children, but the argument becomes a lot harder for adults.

Did you read the article?

>But brain scientists say young people often lack the perspective and judgment, especially in the moment, to know what’s in their best interest.

This is why they made a version that goes into more detail.

Why would phrasing add perspective or judgement?

NABS, but I think it's more accurate to say, "People often lack the perspective and judgment, especially in the moment, to know what’s in their best interest."

But the consequences of remaining silent or not remaining silent might be lost on anyone, regardless of their age.

I agree with the clarification of the Miranda for youths who may not fully understand it as it is recited today.

From the article, "We put kids in jail and that could ruin their life, so we need to be really careful about when and how we do that.” This is a very important point and I hope they do not stop at clarifying Miranda rights. Extending the approach of helping youths lacking 'perspective and judgement', I'd hope for further investigation into the effects of reducing sentences of minor crimes for youths as well.

>You have the right to remain silent, which means that you don’t have to say anything.

>It’s OK if you don’t want to talk to me.

They completely left the part out how whatever you say to the officer can be used as evidence in court (and perhaps against you). No kid is going to pick up on that implication.

EDIT: No idea why I'm getting downvoted. Even with the rest of the text, it DOES NOT imply that whatever they say to the officer could cause them to lose their case in the future.

> If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and Probation Officer what you tell me.

Seems pretty clear to me, but I suppose they don't mention that telling the judge could be bad for you.

"I can tell" is a lot different than "I will tell". The phrasing sounds like sugar coating as much as it does simplification to me.

The Miranda warning says "Anything you say MAY be used against you in a court of law." They don't have to tell the court, judge or anyone else... but they may.

It would be lying to say the police "will" tell the judge anything the kid says. That's why they use "can".

You missed it?

"If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and Probation Officer what you tell me."

Have you ever watched this video? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE

All kinds of people think they can talk their way out of an arrest. Unsavvy people might interpret that statement as saying their excuses and explanations will passed up to people who will listen sympathetically or at least could be convinced. They don't realize their statements can only cause them harm. I think that kind of misconception would be especially true for juveniles.

What if you are in a situation where the officer really thinks you are innocent, but has to follow through with a complaint? Saying you want a lawyer and not talking at all may make the officer change his mind, thinking you have something to hide, and want to pursue the case further, whereas if the officer has already made up his mind that you are innocent, then saying what they want to hear can work in your favor.

Of course the problem is you really don't know what the officer thinks. But you may be able to pick up on that if you are good at reading body language.

There is not a single thing a completely and perfectly innocent person can say to a cop in their own defense which would not almost certainly harm them for saying it. Other than your name, that you are excercising your right to remain silent (important to state this explicitly), and you would like to speak to a lawyer.

Please watch this if you haven't, it's very entertaining and absolutely true: "Don't Talk to the Police" https://youtu.be/d-7o9xYp7eE

Yeah, that's what they want you to think. "We're just here to get this cleared up and get you on your way. Just talk to me, buddy."

You are under no obligation to attest to your innocence. It's not your responsibility to do so. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

You cannot refuse to provide identification (or do a roadside sobriety test). But if there is no probable cause to pursue the matter further, there's only so much they can do without your testimony.

There's a lot of damage they can do with your testimony though.

If you're being read your Miranda rights, you are already under arrest and your best course of action is to not say anything to anyone unless it's your lawyer.

I'd say it's missing anything as clear as "Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.", that implication is not obvious from the new warning to me.

How is that not an obvious implication though? Does anyone actually think "oh yeah I can tell the cop, who can tell the judge, but the judge definitely won't use that info in the courtroom!"

The whole point of this effort is because the language of the standard Miranda is supposedly too difficult to understand for some people...

Right, but the argument is that "the cop can tell the judge" is somehow not sufficient to imply that this information can be used against the person in court. But what other reason would there be to tell the judge? It seems like a pretty obvious implication that if the cop tells it to the judge, it can be used in court.

It's misleading I think, people generally know the judge is supposed to be impartial, it's the "used against you" part that is key. Surprisingly few people realize that you should under no circumstances talk to the police without a lawyer, especially if you're innocent.

They could have also added, "... and could even be used as evidence against you in court".

Exactly! Of course they can phrase it differently if needed.

Just because the officer tells them that they can tell the judge what they say doesn't at all imply that it could cause the child to get in more trouble.

This is excellent. Rethinking these types of seemingly small things is a great way to make progress.

> If you start to answer my questions, you can change your mind and stop at any time. I won’t ask you any more questions.

Hmm. I thought the Supreme Court said that you had to explicitly state your refusal to answer questions, and simply stopping answering questions could be considered a response that can be used against you.

> I thought the Supreme Court said that you had to explicitly state your refusal to answer questions, and simply stopping answering questions could be considered a response that can be used against you.

The first half of that sentence is correct. Not so sure about the second half.


I'm not sure I understand this. What would have changed if he had said he was exercising his right to remain silent?

From the opinion:

> Both [the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney] protect the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination by requiring an interrogation to cease when either right is invoked.

It seems that if he had explicitly stated he did not wish to talk, the interrogation would have ended immediately. Because it was not explicitly stated, the police were allowed to continue asking questions. After several hours of being asked questions, he broke his silence and answered.

It appears that explicitly invoking your right to remain silent saves you a lot of stress.

Anecdotally, I feel like there are interrogations where the police kept asking questions even after the subject refused to answer or exercised their right to silence. E.g., you have the right not to answer questions, not the right to silence those asking questions.

For juveniles, IMO, nothing they say before meeting with their lawyer should be admissible in court. It’s as simple as that. These Miranda rights should just point blank tell them to shut up before they talk to a lawyer. Juveniles are just too easy for an adult to coerce a false confession from.

> But brain scientists say young people often lack the perspective and judgment, especially in the moment, to know what’s in their best interest. And yet, the actual changes seem to mostly have to do with language skills, comprehension, and familiarity with the US legal system. Compare: Original Miranda warning: "You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish." Revised "for kids" Miranda warning: "You have the right to talk to a free lawyer right now. That free lawyer works for you and is available at any time – even late at night. That lawyer does not tell anyone what you tell them." Given that the original Miranda case had to do with immigrants, I think the revised version is actually much more fitting to the purpose than the current standard.

I wonder how long after this goes into effect until we start hearing about all the one off cases where the officer "forgot" to use the new template to explain the miranda rights to a juvenile minority suspect. All in all, this seems like a step in the right direction, but somehow I can't help but expect this to just be abused by police like pretty much every other time we've given them explicit discretionary powers. Maybe I'm just jaded.

Changing the wording seems more like a symptom of the real issue: we're collectively very poor at our constitutional literacy.

If there's anything worth teaching in our schools, it's the rights and responsibilities we have as citizens of this country.

"A republic, if you can keep it."

I'm surprised Miranda rights are hard to understand and I live in another country. Guess I watched too much TV as a kid to be exposed to it enough for it to be recitable from memory... Hell, I know more of and about the US constitution than I do my own.

This seems great, especially since having a criminal record early can destabilize you so much long term.

Also keep in mind that just yesterday there was an editorial in the Washington Post blasting Seattle’s city council for losing their marbles (like establishing a city income tax of 2.5% even though income tax is down like 30% from 30 years ago).

Seattle’s City Council, while definitely kind of weird, has been doing some really innovative and awesome stuff, they are trying to learn hard from the mistakes of San Francisco. For instance they’ve established a number of groups to support “renters rights” to counter NIMBY-esque homeowners for instance.

It's actually got absolutely nothing to do with City of Seattle government. This is an initiative by the King County (the county where Seattle is located) Prosecutor's Office and the Sheriff's Department. It does not (yet, hopefully) apply to Seattle Police Department or the Seattle City Prosecutor's Office. So while many of the affected youth may end up benefitting from the initiative if they land at the KC Juvenile Justice Center, if they're arrested by an SPD officer, they're likely to hear the same old Miranda.

(And another point of clarification 'cause I read it too and can't help myself: an opinion piece by George Will isn't exactly an "editorial." I'd seriously doubt that the WAPost editorial board would agree with many of his dubious positions in the column.)

Why don't they just automatically call lawyers for young people? That would be a better way to protect the rights of young people.

From the article:

> Last spring the county adopted a new ordinance that requires juveniles detained at the Juvenile Detention Center in Seattle to get advice from an attorney before talking to law enforcement.

But that's not until they are detained which is already way too late to prevent lasting harm.

Having the right to an attorney does not mean that you are required to have an attorney. On top of that, if the persons family already has an attorney then I'd imagine there are all kinds of issues with adding a court appointed one to the mix.

Fine, then just make it a requirement that some kind of attorney be present before interrogating an underage suspect. I mean, hell, you can't sell them cigarettes or liquor, you can't have sex with them, we don't let them drive before they're almost an adult. Yet when the cops show up we'll let them flap their gums without professional advice when it's almost certainly against their best interests to do so. When I was sixteen, I can guarantee that I was better equipped to decide whether or not to smoke than I was in deciding whether or not to talk to cops. One decision requires a bit of common sense, the other is best suited to those with six years of schooling.

but if the desire is to protect the rights of vulnerable people, and to make convictions more reliable, it's easier to just make sure anyone under 18 or with a borderline learning disability gets an Appropriate Adult.


>If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and Probation Officer what you tell me.

Only if it hurts your case [1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE (sorry, don't remember the exact time, but the video is great, watch it in full anyway)

That's why they say "I can tell" and not "I must tell"

Sure, it's technically right, but it's not good communication. A kid (and most adults) won't pick up on what that implies.

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