News 10.22.13

Retired West Virginia Judge Calls for Uniform Mandatory Electronic Recording of Interrogations

On Saturday, the

Charleston Gazette

published an op-ed by O.C. Spaulding in which the retired circuit judge for Putnam County, West Virginia, calls on the criminal justice system to implement uniform use of video technology to record interrogations of criminal suspects. Spaulding explains that electronically recording interrogations could help reduce the number of innocent people who are convicted based on false confessions because both juries and judges would be able to see first-hand what led to a confession of a crime.


Spaulding writes: “I strongly believe that all officers of the criminal justice system — from law enforcement, to prosecutors, to defense attorneys, to judges, and even the jury — are called to both protect the public from lawbreakers and to protect the innocent from being wrongfully convicted. Electronic recording is a simple tool that serves both of these goals …”


Besides preventing false confessions, Spaulding explains, electronically recording interrogations could help police officers, too, by enabling them to focus entirely on the interrogation process, rather than dividing their attention between filling out administrative forms and taking notes of what happens during the interrogation.


He also writes that standardized recording of interrogations could benefit the court system, making it more efficient by yielding more plea agreements and thereby reducing the number of cases that go to trial.


According to Spaulding, “Uniform electronic recordation increases the public’s trust in law enforcement and strengthens the integrity of the criminal justice process as a whole. …There are no disadvantages if the truth is our goal.”


Read the

entire opinion piece



Learn more about false confessions and mandatory recording of interrogations


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