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Aim Higher: Expanding Procedural Protections at Intake for California Youth

Emily Dennis

Vol. 55

June 2022

Page 2659

SB 203 and SB 395, passed in 2017 and 2020 respectively, amended section 625.6 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code to require attorney consultations for all youth in California prior to custodial interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights. These bills made California one of only two states in the country that require an attorney consultation before a Miranda waiver for youth fifteen years or younger, and they undoubtedly represent progress in reforming California’s punitive juvenile legal system. Both SB 203 and SB 395, however, contain a gaping loophole; they exclude interviews with probation officers under section 628. Probation officers’ virtually unlimited discretion in conducting these interviews, when combined with weak use immunity for youths’ statements made during the interview and judicial discretion at disposition, expose youth to a heightened risk of self-incrimination, system involvement, and harsher dispositions. Why would these two pieces of historic legislation leave an exception that threatens the rule, and how can it be fixed?

This Note aims to answer that question by exploring the ideological and historical origins of juvenile courts, probation officers, and procedural protections for young people. Then, the Note compares protections for young people and adults to find legal justifications for shifting the scope, role, and impact of probation officers in the juvenile legal system. Finally, the Note provides concrete solutions for closing the loophole — the most obvious of which is new legislation. View Full Article

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