Thursday, March 20, 2008
Be Kind, Rewind: Connecticut Considering Bills Requriring Videotaping Of Interrogations And New Identification Procedures
The Connecticut General Assembly is currently considering bills on police lineups and interrogations which I strongly support. The first bill requires that police officers conducting photo and live lineups not know which person in the lineup is the suspect. The hope is that the bill would avoid the possibility that the witness is influenced or coerced. The bill also mandates that all people and photographs in a lineup be viewed one at a time rather than simultaneously. If the bill were passed, eyewitnesses would be advised that the suspect might not be in the lineup and that they should not feel compelled to make an identification. These recommendations come directly from the innocence movement, and I will again direct readers to Duke University Law School Professor Robert P. Mosteller's article on why these identification procedures are essential to increasing accuracy in identifications.
Under the second bill, all interrogations of people in police custody for allegedly committing capital, Class A, or Class B felonies would be videotaped. Unrecorded statements would be inadmissible as evidence in a criminal proceeding. The purpose behind this bill is to corroborate defendants' claims of police coercion, deception, etc. when such misbehavior occurred and to refute such claims when such misbehavior did not occur. For those still asking the question of what Barack Obama has done legislatively, this provides a nice opportunity to note that he was able to get similar legislation passed despite severe opposition.
I think both of these bills help to increase the likelihood that innocent people are exonerated while guilty people are incarcerated.