Thursday, June 16, 2016

Colorado police must record felony confessions

About one quarter of wrongful convictions stem from false confessions, reported Reuters.
Now there’s a fix--at least in Colorado.
Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed into law a measure requiring all Colorado law enforcement agencies to electronically record interrogations in certain felony cases. Such recordings are a known and proven safeguard against wrongful convictions stemming from false confessions.
“This law will not only protect the innocent, it will strengthen good cases against the real perpetrators of crimes. This is a big win for all Coloradans,” said Amshula Jayaram, state policy advocate for the Innocence Project which, nationwide, has either helped secure or documented 342 wrongful convictions proven by DNA evidence.
The new law comes a year after Colorado enacted another innocence reform measure to reduce eyewitness misidentification – also a major factor leading to wrongful convictions. It requires more stringent identification procedures that offer protections against racial bias and faulty memory.
Both policies are the result of the Colorado Best Practices Committee, a two-year-old coalition of prosecutors, defense attorneys and Innocence Project policy advocates.
Several law enforcement agencies, including Denver Police, say they already record police interrogations. One of the reasons, says Jonathyn Priest, a former lieutenant with that department, is to protect “against any unjustified claims of police coercion.”
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