Representative Terry Canales of Texas introduced two bills on Wednesday which he says would promote transparency and ensure responsible law enforcement practices in the state.
House Bill 541 would require police to record custodial interrogations, the questioning led by police once a suspect has been taken into custody, either in audio or video format. The current law only requires that any confessions resulting from interrogations be recorded in writing.
“Full recordings of interrogations provide more accurate representation of what actually occurred during an interrogation and clarify what was said or not said, rather than the current practice of police typing a statement and giving it to the defendant to sign,” Rep. Canales told the Valley Town Crier.
“As various innocence groups have found, about 25 percent of DNA exonerations involved false confessions,” Canales said. “Additionally, three of Texas’ 36 DNA wrongful convictions involved false confessions.”
However, the bill lists several exceptions to the requirement including spontaneous confession, problems with the camera, or an error in making the recording.
Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia currently require the recording of confessions.
Canales also pre-filed House Joint Resolution 62 which would require The Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stream live broadcasts of their trials through its website.
Canales said that broadcasting high court proceedings would help educate the public and build trust among the citizens of the state regarding the courts’ practices and procedures.
“If the state’s highest courts are to maintain the public’s trust, they must be visible and accessible to all Texans and televising arguments would go far toward achieving that end,” Canales said.
Read the full story