CHICAGO, June 18, 2004 – LAWFUEL – The search for truth and justice in our
legal system is best served by recording custodial interrogations of felony
suspects from Miranda until the interviews end. This practice benefits law
enforcement, suspects, prosecutors, juries and judges, according to officers
contacted in a recent study conducted by Thomas P. Sullivan, a Jenner & Block
partner and former U.S. Attorney. His study of 238 law enforcement agencies
in 38 states presently recording felony custodial interrogations reveals that
law enforcement personnel enthusiastically favor the practice.
As Co-Chair of the Illinois Governor George H. Ryan’s Commission on
Capital Punishment, Sullivan led the subcommittee charged with making
recommendations to the full Commission about police investigatory practices.
“We found a major problem concerning disputes as to what occurred when
suspects under arrest are brought to a police station for questioning,” said
Sullivan. “The simple solution is for law enforcement agencies to require that
all in-custody interviews be recorded in their entirety.”
Recording custodial interrogations saves time and money, creates
compelling evidence and is effective in resolving disputes involving
allegations of police misconduct and whether confessions are voluntary.
Partly as a result of the Commission’s recommendations, Illinois became
the first state to enact a law requiring the electronic recording of police
interrogations in homicide investigations. Maine and the District of Columbia
have recently followed suit. This needed reform, Sullivan said, may be
accomplished by legislation, by practices voluntarily adopted by law
enforcement agencies, or by rulings of state supreme courts as in Alaska and
Minnesota. “This is a matter of national concern, involving every law
enforcement agency in the U.S.,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan’s report and findings on the taping of police interrogations is
available online at http://www.jenner.com/policestudy .