Under 25, Juvenile Suspects are a Vulnerable Demographic

Numerous studies have been released in the past decade discussing juvenile brain development and the fact that until 25, key areas of judgment, discernment and decision-making are incomplete.

The implications are enormous across the spectrum of applications—considering how many significant decisions many youth make during this time, from marriage, to college selection to financial commitments and more.

But what about when it comes to the less ceremonial?

Arrest-Juvenile-GenericWhat about when it comes to crime?

The same research shows that among the juvenile demographic, young people under 25 are significantly more likely to produce what are called “false confessions” when questioned about crimes.

In the criminal justice system, this conversation has had tremendous weight and impact. Consider the stats identified as recently as Oct 2013’s Find Law Blog:

  • Out of 125 false confessions in one study, 33 percent were from juveniles, most of whom confessed to murder;
  • In a review of exonerations between 1989 and 2004, 42 percent of juvenile exonorees’ cases involved false confessions (compared with 13 percent of adults);
  • Among the youngest of those exonerees, ages 12 to 15, 69 percent confessed to homicides and sexual assaults that they did not commit.

What’s more, the Supreme Court has eliminating the death penalty for juveniles convicted of homicide and state by state, legislation is being drawn and passed to protect our countries youth.

One of the biggest impacts that we are seeing are in bills that now require interrogations of minors who have been suspected of homicide to be videotaped. Recording these interrogations achieves two goals:

  1. It increases the strength of the evidence used against the suspect
  2. It guards against false confessions

Find Law does identify situations where videotaping may not be required. These include:

  • Exigent circumstances (which must be noted in the police report) exist;
  • The person being interrogated refuses to speak unless the conversation is not recorded (the refusal and ultimatum should be recorded if possible);
  • The interrogation takes place in another jurisdiction (outside of California);
  • The person being interrogated wasn’t suspected of murder, though if the officer begins to have such suspicions during the interrogation, she should commence recording;
  • Recording would jeopardize the safety of a confidential informant, the suspect, or a police officer (again, this must be noted in the police report);
  • The recording device malfunctions (despite maintenance, best efforts, etc.);
  • The confession results spontaneously from routine booking questions.

Protecting all demographics is important in meeting out justice. What’s more, few systems if any others, can provide the level of quality, immediacy and accessibility in digital video and audio recording as Word System’s iRecord Interrogation equipment.

Request a product demo today or click on our testimonials to hear how we are not only enabling prosecutors, legal teams and other authorities to bring criminals to justice but to prevent the conviction of juveniles from crimes they may otherwise falsely confess to have committed.

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