Study: Because of Miranda Cops Solve Fewer Crimes

Washington, D.C. - As many as 136,000 violent crimes and 299,000 other crimes go unsolved each year because of the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court's Miranda rules, according to a study released today by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"A confession is needed for a conviction in a fourth of all criminal cases tried," said Paul Cassell, a professor at the University of Utah College of Law and author of the study. "Unfortunately, the Miranda rules are hamstringing criminal investigations all across the country."

Cassell says the percentage of crimes solved dropped dramatically after the Miranda rules took effect in 1966 and have remained at lower levels over the three decades since. According to the study, after the Miranda ruling, confession rates fell nationwide by about 16 percentage points. Analyzing FBI data from 1995, Cassell concludes that:

  • If the Miranda rules had not been in place police would have solved between 8 percent and 20 percent more violent crimes.
  • Police would have solved between 3 percent and 16 percent more property crimes.

"The FBI and many other law enforcement agencies were already informing suspects of their rights even before Miranda," said Cassell. "Miranda harms law enforcement, not by informing suspects of their right to remain silent, but by giving them the power to block any police questions."

The study estimates that if Miranda were not in place, in 1995:

  • Between 8,000 and 36,000 more robberies would have been solved.
  • Between 17,000 and 82,000 more burglaries, between 6,000 and 163,000 more larcenies and between 23,000 and 78,000 more vehicles thefts would have been solved.

The study suggests that other measures could be put in place to guard against coercive techniques and at the same time allow police to obtain more confessions from criminals. These include videotaped interrogations, interrogations before a magistrate or returning to the historical "voluntariness" test where the court excludes confessions deemed "involuntary" because of the way they were obtained.

"Miranda has handcuffed the cops," Cassell said. "It's time to consider removing these shackles and regulating police interrogation in less costly ways."