News 08.28.13

Illinois Expands Recording of Interrogations

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Monday that expands current legislation mandating the recording of homicide interrogations to include people suspected in any of eight violent felonies, including aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery with a gun and armed robbery, reported the

Chicago Tribune

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Under the new law, which will be implemented over the next three years and completed by June 2016, courts will presume inadmissible any statement a suspect in one of the specified felonies makes unless the interrogation is recorded.

 

While there is some concern from Chicago police about funding the expansion, Mayor Rahn Emanuel and Superintended Garry McCarthy are in favor of the new law. For law enforcement agencies, recording interrogations can prevent disputes about how a suspect was treated and deter officers from using illegal tactics to secure a confession.

 

An unlikely supporter of the bill is Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez who told the Tribune that a recorded interrogation is “an awesome piece of evidence.” Cook County was plagued by wrongful convictions in the “Englewood Four” and “Dixmoor Five” cases when false confessions were elicited from young innocent men. Years later, DNA testing proved all nine men innocent and revealed that only one perpetrator had committed each crime. Alvarez was resistant to overturn the convictions.

 

Lake County has also had a problem with false confessions, with three of the four wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence since 2010 having been caused in part by false confessions.


Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim, who took over the office after those cases fell apart, said he supports the new law, though he said he would support an even broader bill that would call for the recording of all interrogations.

 

“I hope that’s where we’re headed. I think (that’s) where we should go,” he said.

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