Criminal Interrogation with Juveniles: A National Survey of Police Practices and Beliefs

Meyer, Jessica Renee, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Reppucci, Dick, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Allen, Joseph, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Monahan, John, School of Law, University of Virginia
Kingston, Paul, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia

Recent media coverage has highlighted cases in which young suspects were wrongly convicted because they provided interrogation-induced false confessions. Although youth may be more highly suggestible and easily influenced by authority than adults, police are trained to use the same psychologically coercive and deceptive tactics with youth as with adults. This investigation is the first standard, large-scale documentation of the reported interrogation practices of law enforcement professionals, police beliefs about the reliability of these techniques and their knowledge of child development. Participants were 1,828 law enforcement officers who completed surveys about interrogation procedures and developmental issues pertaining to youth. Results indicated that (1) while police acknowledge some developmental differences between youth and adults and how these developmental limitations may affect the reliability of reports obtained from young suspects in interrogation, there were indications that (2) police do not seem to apply this fundamental developmental knowledge to their reported practices in the interrogation context and (3) their general view is that youth can be dealt with in the same manner as adults.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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