Although the laws vary from state to state around the country regarding whether recorded interrogations are required for submission in a court setting, the value and advantage of providing them have become apparent to all parties involved when it comes to protecting the innocent from false confessions and more.
Learn highlights of these advantages highlighted from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vo 5, Issue 3 Spring 2005.
One of the most interesting arguments made for use of electronic recording systems for interrogations is that of the comparison of ERI to that of DNA evidence. As the Spring 2005 issue of the JCLC explains,
“In some cases, DNA will provide compelling evidence of guilt and in others it can exonerate the innocent. Likewise, an electronic recording of an interrogation provides an objective record of a critical phase in the investigation of a crime—tangible evidence that can be carefully reviewed for inconsistencies or to evaluate the suspect’s demeanor and appreciate the context in which a statement is provided.”
The current situation as it is now in the US is that nearly all law enforcement agencies are required to electronically record interrogations, although the choice of whether to audio or video record is left to the agency, as is the choice of equipment used to capture these records.
Isolation, confrontation and minimalization are all techniques which have been used to increase anxiety among suspects and produce confessions, but the same techniques have also produced false confessions, one of the key problems cited with using these techniques (Policy Review, 5).
Ensuring that the guilty are sentenced is just as important as ensuring that the innocent are protected, and this is the strongest argument for the use of electronic video recording systems across the country.
Two Top Benefits that ERI (via Video) Offers
The benefits of recording interrogations via video are many, especially for the prosecution, but also for the innocent who find themselves in trial. Here are some of the top benefits as pointed out by The Justice Project in Vo 5 of The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology:
- Prevention of False Confessions: “A comprehensive electronic recording of interrogations helps prevent wrongful convictions stemming from false confessions by providing courts with the information necessary to accurately assess whether a defendant’s statement is reliable and voluntary.
- Provides a Record to Review Later: Additionally, an electronic record allows law enforce-
ment and prosecutors to review the interrogation later, to observe the suspect’s demeanor and watch for inconsistencies. This allows for a more informed decision about whether to charge a suspect on the basis of a statement, thus helping to prevent the prosecution of an innocent individual.”
As early as 2005, at least one department in every state had implemented policies and electronic recording systems (video, audio or both), translating into over 450 individual forces utilizing the equipment (Policy Update, 2). Today, in 2014, that number is far greater, although it’s still not enough.