Delaware Moves Closer to Electronic Recording of Interrogations
In a news story published yesterday, Delaware’s
reported that the state’s Attorney General Matt Denn is circulating draft guidelines that would recommend that all law enforcement agencies in the state implement the electronic recording of all custodial interrogations. Currently, a number of the larger law enforcement agencies in Delaware record interrogations, but their practices vary. The Innocence Project, which has long advocated for the electronic recording of interrogations as a safeguard against wrongful convictions stemming from false confessions, applauded Denn for issuing the guidelines, but believes they should be required, not voluntary, to ensure uniformity in practice. The Attorney General could ensure that law enforcement agencies implement these guidelines by including a clause that says prosecutors will not use statements obtained in nonrecorded interrogations.
“They are good guidelines,” said Innocence Project State Policy Advocate Michelle Feldman. “But without some kind of teeth in it, it won’t help innocent people much.”
The timing of the drafted guidelines coincides with a death penalty case that is currently before Delaware Supreme Court in which the defendant claims that he was coerced into falsely confessing, and that he was not properly read his Miranda rights. Electronic recording of entire interrogation processes can eliminate these types of issues.
Nineteen other states throughout the country have mandated the practice either by statute or court action, the purpose being to help prevent wrongful convictions.
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