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King County rolls out Miranda rights tailored for young people

FILE: Teens at the King County Juvenile Detention
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery
FILE: Teens at the King County Juvenile Detention

"You have the right to remain silent."

Most people can recite at least the first line of the Miranda warning used by police when arresting people. The warning informs suspects they don’t have to talk to the police if they don’t want to, and that they have a right to an attorney. But brain scientists say young people often lack the perspective and judgment, especially in the moment, to know what’s in their best interest.

To help King County defenders, prosecutors and the sheriff’s department collaborated on new Miranda language for deputies to use with young people:

You have the right to remain silent, which means that you don’t have to say anything. It’s OK if you don’t want to talk to me. If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and Probation Officer what you tell me. You have the right to talk to a free lawyer right now. That free lawyer works for you and is available at any time – even late at night. That lawyer does not tell anyone what you tell them. That free lawyer helps you decide if it’s a good idea to answer questions. That free lawyer can be with you if you want to talk with me. If you start to answer my questions, you can change your mind and stop at any time. I won’t ask you any more questions.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart said knowing what we know about youth and decision making, it’s the right thing to do.

“We put kids in jail and that could ruin their life, so we need to be really careful about when and how we do that,” Urquhart said.

Deputies will start using it as soon as the cards are printed.

Anita Khandelwal, interim deputy director of the Department of Public Defense, called the partnership a model for reforming the juvenile justice system.

Last spring the county adopted a new ordinance that requires juveniles detained at the Juvenile Detention Center in Seattle to get advice from an attorney before talking to law enforcement.