Friday, December 01, 2006

Readability: Miranda warnings

Here are the paraphrased conclusions of a study of Miranda-warning texts used in the counties of Alabama:
  • the readability of the warnings varied greatly from county to county
  • a few of the warnings were very difficult to read (one was at grade level 15)
  • many of the warnings were not as readable as they probably should be
  • on average, versions of the warning written for juveniles were less readable
The last statement supports another study that reached the same conclusion. Are we all saying why!? right now?

The authors of this study speculate that in trying to rewrite the Miranda warning for juveniles, the writers, who, I assume, were not trained in plain English, introduced wordiness and complexity into the original text.

Rachel Kahn, Patricia A. Zapf, & Virginia G. Cooper, Readability of Miranda Warnings and Waivers: Implications For Evaluating Miranda Comprehension, 30 L. & Psychol. Rev. 119 (2006)

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