Anne Coughlin's Dec. 12 Outlook article, "Miranda Only Works for the Usual Suspects," pointed out an important deficiency in the U.S. criminal justice system.
No major European country would allow a suspect to be intimidated into confessing a crime. In England, pretrial interviews are conducted by senior police officials. A police officer is present for the physical protection of the suspect and the interviewing official.
Upon arrest in England, the suspect is informed: "All statements you make will be taken down in writing and used against you in a court of law" (a much stronger statement than the Miranda warning). This policy has been in effect since 1920.
Elsewhere in Europe, police ordinarily interview the suspect in the office. Once an arrest has been made, the suspect is placed in a judicial detention facility and further inquiry is made under judicial supervision.
The reason so much emphasis is placed on extortion of confessions in the United States lies with the unrealistically restrictive rules of evidence. The exclusionary ruling is largely responsible for this situation. The "right to privacy" and "freedom from unlawful search" are the buzzwords in this context. When a police officer makes a mistake in gathering evidence, all further evidence generated from the mistakenly gathered evidence is excluded. The criminal is set free, and the public is punished.
I recently saw an interview of a British prosecutor by an American reporter concerning a murder. The reporter questioned the fairness of using "tainted" evidence. The prosecutor said his overriding responsibility was to the people. "Our job is to find out who committed the murder and send him to prison for life," the prosecutor said.
It is unfortunate that more people who influence the American criminal justice system are not more aware of their obligation along these lines.