Two Kansas exonerees urged their state lawmakers to pass a bill requiring recorded interrogations in an op-ed in the Leavenworth Times last week.
Exonerees Floyd Bledsoe and Eddie Lowery, who spent a combined 25 years in prison in Kansas for crimes they did not commit, said a law requiring recorded interrogations could have prevented their wrongful convictions and could keep more innocent people from doing time for crimes they did not commit.
“Recording interrogations from beginning to end removes any doubt about what occurred during closed-door sessions,” Bledsoe and Lowery wrote. “It protects the innocent by deterring against improper tactics that too often lead to false confessions, which contributed to 28 percent of DNA exonerations nationally. It also benefits law enforcement by verifying authentic confessions and protecting against frivolous allegations of misconduct in the interrogation room.”
Currently, 21 states require the recording of interrogations.
In Texas, a state commission is asking the legislature to implement reforms including electronic recording of interrogations, according to a piece in the Austin American-Statesman.
In a report released in December, the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission recommended that police be required to record interrogations from the time the suspect enters the room. The report revealed that out of 850 law enforcement agencies in the state, 68 percent responded that they recorded questioning of suspects in some capacity, but that does not go far enough because the only way to ensure that there is a complete record of what takes place during an interrogation is a statewide law mandating the recording of interrogations in full.
The commission also had recommendations with regard to creating more transparency around incentivized witnesses, improving forensic testing and adopting best practices in eyewitness identification procedures.
Lawmakers will review the report when they come back into session on January 10.
Read the Leavenworth Times op-ed here.
Read the Austin American-Statesman article here.