End the use of coercive and deceptive interrogation methods in policing.
The ACLU of Vermont is committed to ending police violence and increasing transparency and accountability. We support S.6 as a measure to limit coercive police interrogations of youth in Vermont and prevent false confessions, and we urge that the same protections be applied to all police interrogations.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit against a Vermont police department whose extensive use of false, misleading, and coercive interrogation tactics violated our client's state and federal rights. Situations like these offend our values and violate the law; they can and should be prevented from occurring in Vermont. Just as it is wrong to allow police to lie to juveniles to coerce false confessions, it is wrong to allow the same conduct for adults.
Coercive and deceptive interrogations often result in false confessions.
Under current Vermont law, police are permitted to use coercive and deceptive tactics on any person regardless of age when interviewing and questioning a person in connection with a criminal investigation. These interrogation tactics can and do result in people falsely confessing to offenses they did not commit.
Deceptive interrogation tactics ultimately harm the people our state has made the most vulnerable: people of color, youth, and people with mental or physical disabilities. BIPOC are overrepresented in the criminal legal system, including in exoneration databases and in instances of false confessions. Experts have found that people living with mental and physical disabilities are also at particular risk for exploitation and manipulation during interrogation. Youth are particularly susceptible to deceptive tactics because the part of the brain that controls future planning, judgment, and decision-making is not fully formed until their mid-twenties.
We are proud to support S.6, an act related to prohibiting deceptive and coercive interrogation methods for juveniles in this legislative session. To move this bill forward, we need you to make your voice heard – please contact your representatives today and ask them to support S.6.
While we strongly support S.6 as a good start, we also believe that deceptive tactics should be prohibited in any police interrogations – regardless of the age of the person in custody – to increase transparency and accountability of law enforcement officers and minimize false confessions.
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