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Supreme Court Rules: Prisoners don’t have to be read Miranda rights

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In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court on Feb. 21 overturned a federal appeals court decision finding that investigators don’t have to read Miranda rights to inmates during jailhouse interrogations about crimes unrelated to their current incarceration, reported the Associated Press.

The decision is based on the case of prison inmate Randall Lee Fields, who was serving a 45-day sentence in prison on disorderly conduct charges when he was removed from his cell and questioned about allegations that he sexually assaulted a minor. Fields eventually confessed to the crime and was charged and convicted of criminal sexual assault and sentenced to 10-to-15 years in prison.

Fields appealed the use of his confession, stating he was never read his Miranda rights on the sexual assault charges. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati agreed with his appeal and threw out his confession and conviction, ruling that it is required that police read inmates their Miranda rights anytime they are isolated from the rest of the inmates in situations where they could incriminate themselves, reported the AP.

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned that ruling (read it in entirety here), what does that mean for law enforcement? As many police officers know, criminals who are convicted and sentenced of one crime are often suspected in others. This ruling may make it easier for law enforcement to investigate these other cases by interviewing prisoners in jail without the need to read the prisoner Miranda warnings. What other implications might this ruling have for law enforcement?

~Tim Hardiman

Leischen Kranick is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. She has 15 years of experience writing articles and producing podcasts on topics relevant to law enforcement, fire services, emergency management, private security, and national security.

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