NYPD Says Kids Don’t Need Lawyers While Fighting Reforms Targeting Interrogations Of Minors

from the all-lawyers-do-is-make-us-respect-rights! dept

Leave it to the NYPD to suggest some people’s rights just don’t matter. The NYPD has resisted pretty much every reform effort shoved in its general direction and this one — which would affect questioning of juvenile detainees — is being resisted as well. (“Stop resisting!” only works in one direction, unfortunately.)

Here’s C.J. Ciaramella with more details for Reason:

The City recently reported that a coalition of public defenders, juvenile justice organizations, and other groups are pushing to pass a bill in the next session of the New York Legislature that would require minors speak with a lawyer before they waive their Miranda rights and talk to police.

If such a bill passed, New York would join several other states that have tightened rules for juvenile interrogations in recent years. Both Maryland and Washington passed laws requiring attorney consultations for minors before interrogations. Last year, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to ban police from lying to minors during interrogations. Oregon followed suit shortly after. 

It’s a simple reform: one that ensures minors receive the same constitutional protections adults do when detained by police. There’s no reason they shouldn’t have these protections. While the rights of minors can sometimes be slightly diminished to ensure things like school safety, their rights when arrested by police officers remain exactly the same as every other American.

All this would do is force the NYPD to give juveniles access to lawyers during questioning — the same demand that can be made by anyone under arrest. The NYPD ain’t having it, though. And, as Ciaramella points out, the statement it gave The City suggests it thinks children should be underserved when arrested, unable to fully utilize their constitutional rights.

“Parents and guardians are in the best position to make decisions for their children, and this bill, while well-intentioned, supplants the judgment of parents and guardians with an attorney who may never have met the individual,” a police spokesperson said in an unsigned email. 

No wonder no one signed this horseshit. Who would want to put their name on such self-interested stupidity?

The NYPD knows lawyers specializing in criminal defense are pretty goddamn good at defending the rights of accused and arrested people. Of course the NYPD doesn’t want anyone qualified to do this important job anywhere near people being questioned, whether they’re juveniles or adults. Pretending its in the best interest of arrestees to get help from people with little to no legal experience works out best for the NYPD and its apparent desire to engage in as much unconstitutional questioning as possible.

It’s not like this is just reform for the sake of reform. It’s the desire to prevent the NYPD from adding to the long list of false confessions and rights violations perpetrated by law enforcement agencies across the nation against minors they’ve arrested. There’s nothing theoretical about the potential harm. There are plenty of real life cases found everywhere in the nation.

Ciaramella highlights just one of them — a case that shows exactly why the NYPD wants children to have access to no one but parents, as well as why this reform effort is sorely needed.

Reason reported in 2021 on the case of Lawrence Montoya, who at the age of 14 falsely confessed to being at the scene of a murder after several hours of being badgered by two Denver police detectives. Montoya’s mother was present for the first part of the interview. She encouraged him to talk and eventually left her son alone in the interrogation room with detectives, allowing them to lean on him until he gave them what they wanted: a flimsy confession constructed with the facts that they had fed to Montoya.

That’s what the NYPD prefers: parents who will likely suggest cooperation is the best route and leave it in the hands of professionals who want to secure confessions and convictions, rather than actually seek justice.

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