Concern has arisen among lawyers, psychologists, social workers, and other professionals regarding the depth of understanding exercised by young persons in relation to police warnings specifically involving the waiver of their rights. Across Canada it is common for young persons who are being detained by police to waive their rights under the Young Offenders_Act.
The format of this study is modeled on an investigation undertaken by Thomas Grisso at St. Louis University in Missouri. The focus of his study is the legal and psychological competence of youth to discharge the waiver of their rights guaranteed under law. This study is an attempt to analyze the same issues in a Canadian context by replicating part of Grisso's measure of comprehension of police warnings. It will also provide an in-depth look at young persons' reasoning and thought processes when confronted with waiver and statement forms.
This is a descriptive study employing an interview format to discover the depth of comprehension exhibited by young persons who are presented various cautions and warnings typically read by police officers. Subjects will consist of young people aged 10 to 17 years. No attempt is being made to obtain a random or stratified sample. It is anticipated that older subjects will display greater understanding of the statements than younger subjects. However, it is expected that this research will reveal that young persons' understanding of concepts related to their legal rights is impaired.
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Copyright 1998, Karen L. Higgins-Biss