Illinois v. Perkins 496 U.S. 292 (1990)
ILLINOIS v. PERKINS 496 U.S. 292 (1990)
An eight-member majority of the Supreme Court held that the right against self-incrimination is not abridged when prisoners incriminate themselves in statements voluntarily made to a cellmate who is an undercover officer. Justice anthony m. kennedy for the Court reasoned that the officer posing as a prisoner did not have to give Miranda warnings before asking questions that sought incriminating responses because Perkins, although in custody, was not in a coercive situation when he boasted to his cellmate about a murder. He spoke freely to a fellow inmate. He was tricked, but the miranda rules prohibit coercion, not deception. Any statement freely made without compelling influences is admissible in evidence. The Court also held that because the prisoner had not yet been charged for the crime that was the subject of the interrogation, the right to counsel had not yet come into play. Therefore, the prisoner suffered no violation of his Sixth Amendment right. Justice william j. brennan who concurred separately, agreed completely on the Fifth Amendment issue, but believed that the police deception raised a question of due process of law.
Justice thurgood marshall, the lone dissenter, contended that because the prisoner was in custody, the interrogation should not have occurred without Miranda warnings. He believed that the Court had carved out of Miranda an undercover-agent exception.
Leonard W. Levy
(see also: Miranda v. Arizona; Police Interrogation and Confessions.)