Policies for Police-Minority Relations
The criminal law, with very few exceptions, imposes the same obligations and confers the same rights upon all persons living within the state’s boundaries. In practice, apparently respectable, rich, or powerful persons may be treated better when offenses are being investigated, but such differences arise in the implementation of the rules and are not authorized by them. Only in restricted circumstances are special rights conferred upon minorities. In England and Wales, special instructions are issued to the police concerning procedures for interviewing children and young persons, mentally handicapped persons, deaf persons, and those unable to speak English. Failure to comply with the directions may lead to the resulting evidence being declared inadmissible and excluded from the trial process, so members of these minorities have special rights. Not surprisingly, judges sometimes have difficulty determining whether the police have complied with these directions. I suggest, therefore, that in our discussions we should concentrate upon matters arising from the implementation of laws phrased in universalistic terms.
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