Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

SGA to host Know Your Rights forum Wednesday

It may not be a good idea to answer when the police officer asks if you know how fast you were going after pulling you over. Talitha Powers Bailey, director of the Capital Defense Law Clinic, said admitting your speed is essentially confessing to the crime.

“You’ve just waived your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” Bailey said. “You’ve basically just confessed. He didn’t have to interrogate you to get you to do that. All he had to do was ask, but you are under no obligation to answer that question because it’s incriminating.”

Sometimes those simple questions and freely offered answers can lead to convictions.

“All day, every day in any court in this country, you will go in and you will find – all the way from traffic court to the most serious felonies – you will find people who have opened their mouths and just talked,” Bailey said. “In some cases, they won’t stop talking. It can be that simple and that easy to just throw away your rights.”

The Student Government Association will hold a Know Your Rights symposium followed by a question and answer session with Bailey and other local attorneys Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Ferguson Center Ballroom.

“I think every citizen, or every person, in the United States should know what their rights are,” Bailey said. “They have a right to remain silent. They have a right to freely travel. They have a right to be secure in their papers. They have a right to an attorney. Those are just your basic civil rights.”

Hamilton Bloom, SGA vice president for student affairs, said the desire for a Know Your Rights program was expressed to him by students consistently throughout his campaign, and since then, it has been a goal of his to make it happen.

“There are two main reasons,” Bloom said. “First, in the off chance that students get into a situation that calls for police involvement, they should know explicitly what both the police and the student can and cannot do. Along with a familiarity of the rights they enjoy, this sort of education will foster a better relationship between both students and police. Additionally, in order to be informed citizens, students should be aware of the rights provided to them in the Constitution.”

The symposium will address these situations and what students and police can and cannot do.

“The purpose of the event is to foster a better relationship between students and police officers because that can sometimes be a relationship that students are maybe afraid of or have a negative attitude towards,” Leela Foley, SGA director of media relations, said. “So we wanted to teach students their fundamental rights while also trying to help that relationship and make it a more positive one.”

Bloom said the relationship between police officers and students could be improved by dialogue about the rights of the student and cooperation with the police under these rights.

“Rather than viewing individual interactions with police with fear or anger, this program will better allow students to interact with police in a calm, informed manner,” Bloom said.


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