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Law to Require Videotaped Interrogations a Plus for Police

August 8th, 2014 at 7:13 am

Christopher M. Cosley, criminal defense, Illinois laws, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, videotape police interrogations, videotaped interrogations, record interrogations, digital interrogationA proposal to legally require videotaped interrogations of offenders who are suspected of certain crimes has been passed. A recent news article reports that even though the proposal was originally intended to focus, at least in part, on suspects’ rights, police are seeing it as a positive change for them, as well.

Momentous Change

Cook County has seen about 100 wrongfully convicted criminal offenders be exculpated in the previous approximately 25 years. The most recent examples of this came fairly recently when the convictions of two men for a double murder in 1992 were thrown out and a $40 million settlement was revealed to the public in the case of five men who were wrongfully convicted of a 1991 rape and murder. Both of these cases were tried before a 2003 law made it mandatory to videotape police interrogations of homicide suspects. This and other reforms since have acted to reduce the risk of false confessions by criminal suspects. Other factors, such as a cultural shift in police behavior and improved technology, are also credited with ensuring the correct person is prosecuted for a particular crime.

The Effects

Police practices have changed since the early 1990s, and the state’s attorney reported that that is a good thing. She said that the reforms that have been put in place are working and that a difference is visible. Others, including defense attorneys and civil rights lawyers, say it is too early to determine whether the measures that have been put in place are working, but believe the measures are a positive step in the right direction. They say that it often takes decades for wrongful convictions to emerge and it takes time for inmates to further claims of innocence. According to this group, perhaps false confessions are still being taken and just have not yet been revealed. National statistics support the claim that there is often a lag of 10 years between a false confession and wrongful conviction being overturned.

Years Past

In years past, before any measures were signed into law regarding videotaping confessions, false confessions were not only the product of unethical police tactics, but some say that the high crime levels of the 1980s and 1990s also contributed. Detective units were spread thin because of the high number of crimes, and police tactics were less sophisticated and at times heavy-handed, while forensics were not as reliable as they are today.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can discuss your case with you and advise you of your rights. Contact a Cook County criminal defense attorney today to schedule a consultation.

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