News 05.22.14

FBI and Other Federal Agencies to Record Custodial Interrogations

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and other Justice Department agencies are set to begin the practice of recording almost every interrogation of suspects in federal custody this summer.



New York Times

reported that the reversal of federal agencies’ long standing practice to not record interrogations comes as an increasing number of local jurisdictions around the country have adopted recording policies in an effort to reduce both wrongful convictions and officer misconduct.


A memo issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole earlier this month stipulated that beginning in July, law enforcement must record all interviews that take place after a suspect has been arrested in connection with a federal crime. The memo states that video recording is preferred, but audio recording will suffice when cameras aren’t available. It also says that limited exceptions will be made when a suspect doesn’t want to be recorded or when an interrogation is being conducted to obtain information to be used to protect public safety instead of to gather evidence to be presented in court.


The Innocence Project has long advocated that electronic recording of interrogations, from the reading of Miranda rights onward, is the single best reform available to stem the tide of false confessions.


According to the

New York Times

, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Federal agents and prosecutors throughout the nation are firmly committed to due process in their rigorous and evenhanded enforcement of the law. This new recording policy not only reaffirms our steadfast commitment to these ideals — it will provide verifiable evidence that our words are matched by our deeds.”


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More about the benefits of recording interrogations


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