Miranda Ruling Cuts Crime Clearances, Profs Say

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When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to an attorney before questioning, four dissenting justices predicted that the decision would harm the ability of police to solve crimes. Two University of Utah professors say the passage of more than half a century has shown the seriousness of the consequences, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Law professor Paul Cassell and economics professor Richard Fowles say in “Still Handcuffing the Cops?” — an analysis published in Boston University Law Review — that clearance data from 1950 to 2012 about 20 percent more violent crimes and 11.6 percent more property crimes would be solved each year without the Miranda requirements, Cassell and Fowles say.

The professors say the reduced rate stems not from the warning about the right to remain silent, but from Miranda procedures that generally prevent police from questioning suspects in custody unless they agree to be questioned. Cassell and Fowles propose replacing that procedure with a requirement that interrogations be video recorded. “What’s amazing to us is Miranda is 50-plus years old and it hasn’t been updated,” Cassell said. Videotaping would be a “win-win,” Cassell and Fowles say, because it would offer more protection for suspects against involuntary confessions “while not reducing law enforcement’s ability to obtain voluntary confessions.” In the 5-4 Miranda opinion, Supreme Court said a defendant “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.”

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