Kids, Cops, and Confessions

Inside the Interrogation Room

351 pages

September, 2014

ISBN: 9781479816385

$25

Paper

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Author

Barry C. Feld is Centennial Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Minnesota and author or editor of many books, including Kids, Cops, and Confessions and Bad Kids: Race and the Transformation of the Juvenile Court.

All books by Barry C. Feld

Juveniles possess less maturity, intelligence, and competence than adults, heightening their vulnerability in the justice system. For this reason, states try juveniles in separate courts and use different sentencing standards than for adults. Yet, when police bring kids in for questioning, they use the same interrogation tactics they use for adults, including trickery, deception, and lying to elicit confessions or to produce incriminating evidence against the defendants.

 
In Kids, Cops, and Confessions, Barry Feld offers the first report of what actually happens when police question juveniles. Drawing on remarkable data, Feld analyzes interrogation tapes and transcripts, police reports, juvenile court filings and sentences, and probation and sentencing reports, describing in rich detail what actually happens in the interrogation room. Contrasting routine interrogation and false confessions enables police, lawyers, and judges to identify interrogations that require enhanced scrutiny, to adopt policies to protect citizens, and to assure reliability and integrity of the justice system. Feld has produced an invaluable look at how the justice system really works.

Reviews

  • "The author's detailed, rare and invaluable look inside the concealed confines of the interrogation room provides a compelling impetus for change."

    LA Daily Journal

  • "A rich blend of top-notch empirical scholarship and doctrinal analysis, Feld's book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of police interrogations—and a major step forward in achieving justice for juveniles . . . an empirical tour de force."

    —Daniel S. Medwed, Criminal Law and Social Change

  • "Feld has done a masterful job of presenting the realities of the interrogation room to the reader. This work is important to scholars of all persuasions who seek to better understand the unique plight of juveniles faced with the inherently coercive circumstances involved in police questioning. The book is well-written and capably blends research-based observations with the perceptions of police and other legal actors. This combined perspective provides the reader with a unique appreciation of a system which often functions far from public view."

    —Lisa S. Nored and Caitlin Carey, CLCJ Books

  • "Investigatory questioning by law enforcement is understood to involve an unequal balance of power with an intrinsic opportunity for abuse. For this reason, Miranda warning rights and other constitutional protections exist in the United States. Nevertheless, Feld (law, Univ. of Minnesota; Juvenile Justice Administration in a Nutshell) warns in his latest book that these legal protections have failed miserably, particularly when juveniles are involved. Feld cautions that juvenile interrogations are ripe for inquisitorial abuse owing, first, to juveniles' incompetence to exercise their Miranda rights effectively; second, to police officers' skill in using psychological tools to gain a waiver; and third, to judicial inability to supervise interrogations as they happen. His research reveals that juvenile interrogation tactics and procedures have resulted in various injustices including the proliferation of false confessions. Feld also offers solutions, including the simple one of recording all custodial interrogations for possible review. Verdict: Recommended. Judges and attorneys as well as law enforcement agencies and juvenile advocates will find this book useful as they work toward the goal of fair treatment and justice for juveniles, both guilty and innocent."

    —Reba Kennedy, San Antonio, Library Journal

  • "A well written and concise account that contributes constitutional measures afforded to youth."

    —Patrick Webb, International Criminal Justice Review

  • “Feld has produced an invaluable exploration into how the criminal justice system really works. . . . A resource for researchers and professionals that want an insider perspective or conduct additional research studies on the interrogation of juveniles.”

    Journal of Youth and Adolescence

  • "University of Minnesota Law School Professor Barry Feld's book Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room was highlighted in research sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The NSF stated, 'The findings, published in 'Kids, Cops, and Confessions: Inside the Interrogation Room,' will aid police departments, juvenile and criminal defense attorneys, state legislatures and judicial law-reform commissions in developing better policies to regulate interrogation practices and provide social scientists with a template to repeat the study in other jurisdictions.'"

    Minnesota Lawyer

  • “Feld takes us on a fascinating journey into that most private of public places—the precinct interrogation room. There, kids prove no match for cops. Feld shows how minors are especially vulnerable, and why the protections we afford to adults do not suffice for kids, particularly younger juveniles. Kids, Cops, and Confessions is a careful and important account of our system, chock full of insights.”

    —Charles Weisselberg, Shannon C. Turner Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law

  • “Feld offers a dispassionate inside view of a social event that is largely hidden—the interrogation room encountered by juvenile suspects. The result challenges our stereotypes, exposing us to crime investigators at their best and worst, kids at their most naïve and savvy, and policies that were meant to protect juveniles but sometimes grease the wheels for interrogators. This book offers new hypotheses for further research, as well as realities that reformers must take into account when forging better laws, policies and practices for police interrogation of young people.”

    —Thomas Grisso, author of Evaluating Juveniles' Adjudicative Competence