Protecting Prisoners During Custodial Interrogations: The Road Forward after Howes v. Fields
Boston College Journal of Law and Social Justice, Vol. 33, Winter 2012
34 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2012
Date Written: October 8, 2012
The Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona sought to mitigate the inherently coercive atmosphere of custodial interrogations to protect victims from involuntary self-incrimination. In analyzing custody for Miranda purposes, courts look at whether a reasonable person would feel his freedom of movement was restricted. When conducting the Miranda custody analysis for interrogated prisoners, courts should thoroughly consider the negative psychological effects of prisons in order to understand the prisoner’s mindset. The Court had the opportunity to conduct this thorough analysis of the dehumanization of prisoners in Howes v. Fields, but it instead minimized the coercive effects of prisons. Moreover, the Court’s finding that the prisoner in Howes v. Fields was not in Miranda custody is inconsistent with its past holdings. This Note argues that in the future, courts should consider with greater nuance the negative effects of prisons in order to protect prisoners from making involuntary confessions.
Keywords: Miranda, Howes v. Fields, custodial interrogation, prisons, prisoner's rights
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