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NCJ Number: 220754 Find in a Library
Title: Mandate the Electronic Recording of Police Interrogations
Journal: Criminology & Public Policy  Volume:6  Issue:4  Dated:November 2007  Pages:791-798
Author(s): Richard A. Leo; Kimberly D. Richman
Date Published: November 2007
Page Count: 8
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis; Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This essay argues that the time has come to mandate the electronic recording of police interrogations nationwide, whether by Federal legislation or by Federal appellate court decisions.
Abstract: This reform will not only reduce the number of false confessions police elicit and thus reduce their role in wrongful convictions, but will also improve the investigative process generally. The electronic recording of police interrogations benefits all parties who value accurate and lawful fact-finding and more informed decisionmaking. Still, many police departments continue to resist the electronic recording of interrogations. Their arguments are that it inhibits suspects from talking and thus lowers the confession rate, that it is too costly, and that it is not feasible. The argument that recording interrogations prevents suspects from making incriminating statements has never been supported by research. On the contrary, several studies have concluded that electronic recording does not cause suspects to refuse to talk or stop making admissions. One study found that the majority of agencies that videotape interrogations obtained more incriminating information from suspects than in unrecorded interrogations. The argument that electronic recording is too costly cannot be supported. In fact, it is an effective way to conserve scarce resources, as it reduces the time that police, prosecutors, judges, and juries spend in evaluating the legitimacy of confessions and interrogation techniques used by the police. As for the argument that the electronic recording of police interrogations is not feasible, this can be addressed by limiting such recording to custodial interrogations. Further, in those States that require electronic recording of interrogations, exceptions are in place to prevent police from being punished or having evidence excluded because of failures of recording devices or other unintended circumstances that prevented an interrogation from being recorded. 20 references
Main Term(s): Police interrogation training
Index Term(s): Confessions; Interrogation procedures; Interview and interrogation; Suspect interrogation; Videotapes; Videotaping arrestees
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