CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, August 26, 2013

"False confessions are costly to California"

This editorial is from the L.A. Times:

It has been five years since a commission made up of prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges and others presented its startling report detailing holes in California's criminal justice system and making recommendations on how to mend them. One of the biggest problems the experts found was dozens of false confessions — assertions by people under interrogation that they had committed crimes when in fact they had not.

. . .

Lawmakers this year considered SB 569, a narrowly tailored bill that would require video recording of custodial interviews with minors, whose rate of false confessions is higher than that of adult suspects. The bill was sent to the Assembly's suspense file, and it has just a week before it can be revived or else join the slew of bills that have been voted down or vetoed.

This is not the only bill stuck in suspense, and lawmakers will have to judge carefully what to do with all of them in the coming week. This one deserves passage. It's a modest step with costs that are also modest, when compared with the unacceptable damage to a justice system that doesn't know or care whether it has the right defendant on trial.

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