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Still Handcuffing the Cops? A Review of Fifty Years of Empirical Evidence of Miranda's Harmful Effects on Law Enforcement

164 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2017 Last revised: 19 Aug 2017

Paul G. Cassell

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Richard Fowles

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

The fiftieth anniversary of Miranda v. Arizona offers a chance to assess how the decision has played out in the real world and, in particular, to determine whether it has harmed law enforcement. In this Article, we take advantage of the time since the Miranda decision—now a little more than fifty years—to see whether it has produced the predicted harmful consequences. In particular, we survey the available empirical evidence about Miranda’s effects on law enforcement. We collect confession rate data, both from the time of Miranda and since, to assess whether Miranda caused confession rates to fall. We also review the FBI’s nationwide data on crime clearance rates to shed light on any changes in the ability of police to solve crimes. Specifically, we report the results of regression equations on crime clearance rates from 1950 to 2012, controlling for factors apart from Miranda that might be responsible for changes in clearance rates. Even controlling for these factors, we find statistically significant reductions in crime clearance rates after Miranda for violent and property crimes, as well as for robbery, larceny, and vehicle theft. We also quantify the number of lost clearances that appear to be due to Miranda. We also briefly conclude by encouraging the Supreme Court, as well as commentators and policy makers, to consider alternative ways of regulating police interrogation that do not have such detrimental effects on police efforts to apprehend potentially dangerous criminals.

Keywords: Miranda, police interrogation, police questioning, confessions, clearance rates, confession rates, false confessions

Suggested Citation

Cassell, Paul G. and Fowles, Richard, Still Handcuffing the Cops? A Review of Fifty Years of Empirical Evidence of Miranda's Harmful Effects on Law Enforcement (2017). 97 Bost. U.L. Rev. 685 (2017); University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 222. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3000098

Paul Cassell (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-585-5202 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)

Richard Fowles

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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