Miranda‘s Failure to Restrain Pernicious Interrogation Practices

As Yale Kamisar’s writings on police interrogation demonstrate, our simultaneous commitments to promoting law enforcement’s interest in obtaining confessions and to protecting individuals from overreaching interrogation practices have created a nearly irreconcilable tension. If the police must be granted authority to engage in effective questioning of suspects, it will obviously be difficult to insure that “the terrible engine of the criminal law . . . not . . . be used to overreach individuals who stand helpless against it.” If we are committed to accommodating these conflicting interests, however, some means must be found to impose appropriate restraints on the police when they engage in interrogation. The Warren Court undoubtedly believed that Miranda’s safeguards would impose significant restraints on the police, ensuring that suspects subjected to custodial interrogation would not only be informed of their constitutional rights but also protected against coercive interrogation practices. Indeed, when Miranda was decided, it was widely believed that the Court had imposed inordinate restraints on the police. In his Miranda dissent, Justice White asserted that there was “every reason to believe that a good many criminal defendants who otherwise would have been convicted on what this Court has previously thought to be the most satisfactory kind of evidence will now . . . either not be tried at all or will be acquitted.”