Let’s Change How Police Question Young Suspects

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About Tamar R. Birckhead

Tamar Birckhead is an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she teaches the Juvenile Justice Clinic, the criminal lawyering process, and juvenile courts and delinquency. Her research interests focus on issues related to juvenile justice policy and reform, criminal law and procedure, indigent criminal defense, and the criminalization of poverty. Follow Professor Birckhead on Twitter: @TamarBirckhead.


  1. John K. Anderson says:

    The great radio program This American Life did a great show about false confessions in general that had a bit that look at this. They described it as, “The story of how common and perfectly legal police interrogation procedures, procedures without violence or torture, were able to get an average fourteen-year-old suburban kid to confess to murdering his own sister…even though DNA evidence later proved that he hadn’t done the crime.” It’s a pretty amazing and disturbing story


  2. Thank you for this article. So many people don’t understand how false confessions can occur, but when this is an issue/concern among adults being interrogated, minors are especially susceptible to such confessions. The JDB case and Miller/Jackson cases from a couple years ago (life without the possibility of parole for juveniles) demonstrate the shift in the Supreme Court justices’ attitudes toward the treatment of minors. We’re heading in the right direction by making age and youthfulness factors that MUST be considered when sentencing or questioning a minor. The Miller/Jackson cases are an extension of the reasoning that began when the Court held that the death penalty for minors is unconstitutional.


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