Did Miranda Diminish Police Effectiveness?
Posted: 14 Jul 1998
This paper examines the claims of Paul Cassell and Richard Fowles, who argue on the basis of a multiple regression analysis of the time series of national clearance rates, that the Supreme Court's Miranda decision has impaired police effectiveness. The paper notes that, although the raw clearance rates published by the FBI seem to have fallen sharply at about the time of the 1966 decision, it is difficult to tell how much of this result reflects changes in the reporting conduct of police departments and, if real, how much is the product of forces other than the Supreme Court's decision that are not well captured in the gross statistical model. The paper notes that clearance rates are not the best measure of the impact of Miranda since the decision only mandates the police to inform individuals of their rights when they are taken into custody, which is when the police consider a case to be cleared. Thus, any impact that Cassell and Fowles find is likely either to be spurious or to represent a reduction in clearances of crimes other than the one for which the recitation of rights is being offered.
Note: An earlier version of this article was announced as Stanford Law School, John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics Working Paper No. 160, May 1998.
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