Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Sociology




Thomas Reifer


In criminal proceedings, confessions have long been recognized as the gold standard of evidence. Understandably, many people question why someone would willingly confess to a crime that they did not commit. However, in the event of an interrogation, police often use psychologically coercive interrogation techniques that may make suspects, especially juveniles, more susceptible to false confessions. This paper intends to assess the vulnerability of juveniles to false confessions and the legal implications of such confessions. The reality is that false confessions ruin innocent lives. Synthesizing existing literature on relevant U.S. Supreme Court cases, juvenile interrogation procedures, and the dispositional vulnerabilities of juveniles, this paper is written with the understanding that children are among the most vulnerable members of society. Juveniles are commonly known to neither think nor behave like adults, yet they still are subject to the same manipulative interrogation techniques as adults. Many states also trust juveniles to waive their Miranda rights without the consent of a parent, a guardian, or an attorney, though they still cannot vote, watch R-rated movies, or drive. With their brains still developing, many children lack the ability to advocate for their own interests and protect themselves from preventable harm. Considering the prevalence of juvenile false confessions in the U.S., actors in the criminal justice system and the public at large should recognize that juvenile suspects require extra protections during an interrogation beyond those granted to adults.

Included in

Sociology Commons