ACLU-PA Position: Supports
HB 188 would create a new section under Title 42 to require arresting law enforcement officers to read a simplified version of Miranda warnings prior to questioning a minor or suspected minor.
In 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement should consider the age of a suspect before questioning or taking the suspect into custody, arguing that minors may not be able to fully comprehend their Miranda rights while in the custody of law enforcement.
A 2013 study by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACA) further found that juveniles are at a heightened risk of false confession in interrogative settings. The same study also found that the pressure of standard interrogation tactics, combined with the complexity of the rights afforded to them, leaves juveniles in an especially vulnerable position, often incapable of acting in their own best interests. The American Bar Association (ABA) similarly published information detailing how children and adolescents falsely confess with startling frequency and are two to three times more likely to do so during an interrogation than adults.
Despite these concerns and a decade after the Supreme Court ruling, standard Miranda warnings continue to be used with juveniles in Pennsylvania. HB 188 reflects the recommended simplified version of Miranda rights put forth by the AACA to ensure that Pennsylvania's children are provided a full understanding of their constitutional right to protection from self-incrimination.
Check the bill's status here.