Police practices and perceptions regarding juvenile interrogation and interrogative suggestibility


  • Jessica R. Meyer Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    • 102 Gilmer Hall, P. O. Box 400400, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400, U.S.A.
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    • We would like to thank the Baltimore County Police Department, as well as Camille Preston and the Police Executive Research Forum, for their collaborative efforts. We are also grateful to Samantha Harvell for assistance with data collection.

  • N. Dickon Reppucci Ph.D.

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    • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, U.S.A.


Recent media coverage has highlighted cases in which young suspects were wrongly convicted because they provided interrogation-induced false confessions. Although youth may be more highly suggestible and easily influenced by authority than adults, police are trained to use the same psychologically coercive and deceptive tactics with youth as with adults. This investigation is the first standard documentation of the reported interrogation practices of law enforcement and police beliefs about the reliability of these techniques and their knowledge of child development. Participants were 332 law enforcement officers who completed surveys about interrogation procedures and developmental issues pertaining to youth. Results indicated that, while police acknowledge some developmental differences between youth and adults, there were indications that (1) how police perceive youth in general and how they perceive and treat them in the interrogation context may be contradictory and (2) their general view is that youth can be dealt with in the same manner as adults. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.