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Note: “Protecting the Innocent and Identifying the Guilty:” Adopting the Children’s Advocacy Center Forensic Interview Model in Police Interrogations of Juveniles


Decades of psychological research provide strong evidence that children are different from adults. Nowhere are these differences more apparent than in the interrogation room. Juveniles are easily persuaded into waiving their Miranda rights, lack a full understanding of what their rights are and how they apply to their current situation, and are more susceptible to the coercive interrogation tactics used by police interrogators. A juvenile’s reward sensitivity, limited future orientation, and decreased decision-making capacity when under stress contributes to the increased likelihood of both true and false confessions in juvenile interrogations. Many states recognize these differences and have enacted laws meant to protect juveniles in police interrogations. Unfortunately, these minor protections are not enough. To truly protect juveniles in police interrogations, an interview model focused on obtaining information, not eliciting a confession, is required. The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) Forensic Interview Model, whose focus is on obtaining information, is a superior approach compared to current interrogation practices for interrogations of juveniles because it is developmentally appropriate and eliminates the subtly coercive practices inherent in current police interrogations. Adoption of the CAC Forensic Interview Model would protect juveniles from falsely confessing tocrimes they did not commit and ensure true confessions are obtained ethically and voluntarily.