Sunday, May 15, 2011

Connecticut to require cops to videotape interrogations [restored]

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Handcuffed wrists

[NOTE: Reposted from RSS feed. May contain differences from original post.]

Here’s a good piece of commonsensical legislation being proposed in Connecticut:

HARTFORD, Conn.— Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that requires certain police interrogations to be videotaped.

The General Assembly's Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote Monday on the proposal, which affects people accused of a capital felony or a class A or B felony.

Under the bill, any statement made during a police interrogation "at a place of detention" would not be admissible as evidence in a criminal proceeding if it there is no audiovisual recording of the comments. The recording cannot be intentionally altered.

The Innocence Project reports that coerced and otherwise falsified confessions make up “about 25% of DNA exoneration cases” – a remarkably high number in and of itself, considering how many more innocents there are presumed still caught up in the US’s twisted penal system. It’s almost hard to believe that recording police interrogations isn’t already the norm, not only for the obvious aid to innocence lawyers, but also for the benefits it would provide to cops whose cases rely on the confessions of actual criminals.

Of course, a good sign that this is a worthy initiative is how state police is whining about it:

The Division of Criminal Justice and the state police oppose the bill. They raised concerns about the expense involved and how it could hinder interrogation techniques.

Complaints about “expenses” are facially ridiculous in light of the fact that if police departments have enough money to set up, train and deploy SWAT teams for minor drug offenses year-round – the policial equivalent to going after a fly with an obscenely expensive bazooka –, they can probably scratch up the cash needed to hook up a few cameras to some monitors and hard drives. And concerns about “hinder[ing] interrogation techniques” are equally absurd; how would simply recording their interactions with detained suspects stop them from performing competent interrogations? If they’re doing everything by the book, then they have nothing to worry about.

If we discount arguments based on obstacles that any technologically savvy child could overcome, we’re left with the conclusion that they just don’t want the courts to see how their carry out their interrogations. Which is both telling, yet unsurprising.

(via The Agitator)