Abolishing Juvenile Interrogation
101 N.C. L. REV. 1015 (2023)
63 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2023 Last revised: 27 Nov 2023
Date Written: May 1, 2023
Rehabilitation is a paramount consideration in abolishing police interrogation of youth. Interrogation is one of the first interactions young people have with the criminal legal system. Unfortunately, the most common methods of interrogation are coercive rather than consensual. Youth are uniquely vulnerable to coercive methods, especially in conjunction with racial, socioeconomic, and ableist hierarchies. Youth vulnerability requires more protective legal standards than those applied to mature adults. Current police practices, permitted by the very structure of the law, harm youth at a critical stage of their development and legal socialization. Interrogation is a missed opportunity to consider how every legal actor can incentivize youth to respect and follow the law. Reforms and scholarly proposals focused on adjusting police behavior or changing the circumstances of youth interrogation fail to ameliorate harm to youth. This Article examines how police interrogation of a youthful suspect may undercut rehabilitation by damaging that young person’s sense of belonging and desire to behave as society hopes. This Article concludes that the most appropriate and practicable solution is a categorical ban on officer-initiated interrogation of youth.
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