Criminal Justice Reform

Miranda Warnings subvert the constitutional protections guaranteeing defendants fair trials and freedom from self-incrimination. ”Fair” was never supposed to only mean that all defendants would receive the same quality of justice as other defendants. It has always been meant to protect the citizens of this country from abuse at the hands of a government which unlike most criminal defendants can bring to bear effectively overwhelming financial and human resources. The Fifth Amendment in particular was written to protect the people from what was understood to be the inherent tendency of powerful organizations – the abuse of power.
Miranda Warnings provide a veneer of constitutionality to what amounts to institutionalized abuse of government power. Under the Miranda system, defendants are told to either risk self-incrimination based on something as unreliable as unresearched personal testimony, or to distrust the very law enforcement officials with whom the safety and security of their community has been entrusted. The power and responsability held by prosecutors and the police is immense. Their actions on a daily basis can save, ruin, or end the lives of ordinary people. But they are also human beings, imperfect and falable. The very category of people the Bill of Rights was designed to restrain.
The simplest way to reverse the endrun that has been made against the integrity of the justice system is to overturn a key aspect of the Miranda System which was designed explicitly to empower criminal prosecutors and investigators at the expense of fairness for defendants.
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” should be abolished. It invites investigators to use deceit and trickery to provoke defendants into what amounts to coerced testimony against themselves. In fact, when the heirarchical displays of power and authority that the criminal justice system has worked so hard to wrap itself in are put at the table, there is very little that can happen which doesn’t rise to the level of coersion so long as the State’s record of evidence against defendants is in any way given the benefit of the doubt.
As things stand now, testimony in court by a law enforcement officer regarding that officer’s recollection of a defendant’s statements implicating the defendant in a crime is treated as valid evidence. If that officer is asked to recall statements by the defendant which benefit the defense, then the testimony is ignored as hearsay. In truth, all statements made to law enforcement officials outside of court should be treated as hearsay evidence. Statements are valuable tools for investigators to follow as potential leads to actual evidence, but they demonstrably do not stand up to the standards of rigor which should be necessary to argue beyond reasonable doubt against a defendant’s presumed innocence.


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