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How Recording Police Interrogations Could Save You

Scales of justice

What do you think about recording police interrogations?

Have you ever had a nightmare about being falsely accused?

Today, we are talking about wrongful convictions, false confessions and lives spent in prison. Unfortunately, we see innocent people going to prison too often. Their lives are torn apart and oftentimes, they don’t have an experienced lawyer to stand by them. What happens when they have confessed to crime they did not actually commit?

Imagine this. Five teenage boys were arrested for raping a woman in Central Park. The police worked hard on obtaining confessions from them. The confessions to the crime had been recorded. The boys protested. No matter how much they now say they are innocent, the police had achieved the confessions. The police congratulated themselves as they had found the perpetrators.

The truth is the police had not found the perpetrators. Tactics were used that revealed details about the crime the accused hadn’t known about. The accused had been brought in only as witnesses, then other tactics were implemented including threatening and slapping from 14-30 hours.

Soon the 5 teenage boys who were under these high pressure tactics confess to a crime they were completely innocent of. The confessions are taped, the tactics were not. The taped confessions are the reason these boys were sent to prison.

That was 1989. In 2002, the boys who were all men now were finally exonerated. The real perpetrator was an imprisoned serial rapist who came forward and the authorities were able to match DNA.

The crime was a rape in Central Park, New York. After the actual perpetrator raped the woman jogger that the 5 teenager were convicted of raping, that same perpetrator went on to rape two other women and murder one.

The Central Park Five

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this a true story. It has become an infamous story, garnering a movie and a book. It’s known as The Central Park Five. The 5 teenagers are now seeking restitution from the New York City.

According to the New York Times, the men sued New York City back in 2003, each seeking damages of $50 million. The reasoning behind the law suit is that they were convicted and imprisoned on the basis of coerced confessions by the police.

The men have not been awarded their restitution. In fact, the case has yet to be resolved.

Recorded Police Interrogations

The problem is that the interrogations were never recorded, even though the confessions were. This case isn’t the only time this has happened.

In fact, according to another article published by the Huffington Post, in cases of 316 people who were exonerated through DNA testing, 30% of those people were convicted based on false confessions.

The article poses the question, why aren’t police interrogations recorded in their entirety?

The Two Reported Problems to Recording Police Interrogations

While many state mandate recording the entire interrogations and some do it voluntarily, not every police department does it. There are two reported problems with recording the entire interrogations,

  1. Financially or Logistically Difficult for Police Departments: While most Americans can take video or phones for almost any phone on the market, some police departments report that they cannot afford it.
  2. The Camera will Discourage Suspects From Talking: Currently it has been reported that there is no evidence to back up this claim.

The Benefits of Recording Police Interrogations Entirely

Recording the interrogation in it’s entirely has been self-reported to benefits police by,

  • Helps to keep police focused, rather than having to worry about taking notes.
  • The tapes can be reviewed later offering more insight to the interview.
  • Police are off the hook, if allegations are made of misconduct.

Summary

Back in May, the U.S Department of Justice finally reversed its ban of recording and now require custodial interrogations to be taped. In the case of The Central Park Five, while police were threatening 5 teenage boys, the real perpetrator was still out there hurting more people.

Do you think police should be required to tape interrogations entirely? Please let us know you thoughts on this topic in the comment section below. If you are facing the accusation of a serious crime, be sure to hire an attorney with a proven track record of fighting diligently for client’s rights. Please call The Law Offices of David J. Kramer, PLLC. We are here to help.

248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000

This article was published on: June 4, 2014 and was last modified June 7, 2014