CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The WVU Law Innocence Project is pushing legislation at the capitol which would require all police interrogations to be video recorded. Supporters of the bill believe it will reduce the chances of false confessions and ultimately false convictions.

“In most cases the police get it right and the prosecution gets it right. The percentage of wrongful convictions is actually fairly small,” said WVU College of Law Professor and Project Director Valena Beety. “But the fact that anyone whose innocent goes to prison is something we should all be concerned with.”

Last year the legislature adopted new protocols for how lineup photos are presented to witnesses of a crime. The protocols are aimed at keeping the investigating officer from influencing the witness either deliberately or inadvertently.  This year’s legislation, SB 440, would require video and audio recordings of all interviews between an investigator and a felony suspect.

“If it’s recorded, juries can see it, judges can see it, prosecutors can see it,” said WVU third-year law student Kristin Kearns. “It’s an objective record.”

The majority of West Virginia law enforcement agencies already record their interviews, but the bill would set out uniform rules and parameters regarding how those should be done to guarantee due process in the case of a confession.

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Geneva Maynard

    I need help with complaints of Western Regional Jail in Cabell County West Virginia ... People are starving, getting beaten and have had human fecal matter thrown at them by the guards working and some of the inmates working for guards ... Please call me 304 417 9228 ... thanks

  • Rich

    Small towns can't afford the type of equipment demanded by this bill. There are several protections in place for review of interrogations and statements.

    • flossrancher

      Yet another red herring (and a lie, to boot). I have read the bill, and it makes ZERO technical specifications on the equipment to be used. My family has a very nice video camera which cost 70 dollars, and a tripod which cost 20, and there were serviceable ones in the store for less. Nothing in this bill says anything at all about needing a better recording system than that. There may be honest objections to the bill, but this is not one of them.

    • Matt

      Yeah, that's nonsense. Recording equipment in this day and age is cheap and very affordable, even by impoverished communities.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Fearmongle is a sheep

  • Fearmongle

    Great point Phil.

  • Fearmongle

    Search your home Harpers Ferry. I heard devices already in place in the eastern panhandle!

  • Harpers Ferry

    Soon to come, WV, as well as Obama, orders that cops and/or military have listening devices in our houses. The sheep don't complain because "we don't have anything to hide, we're not criminals." Meanwhile, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Sam Adams roll in their graves with disappointment.

    • Andy

      A sad pitiful man you are.

      • Harpers Ferry

        Ok, Smart Man, then where do the regulations stop? They don't. It's a never-ending domino effect.

        • Geneva Maynard

          Please call me Harper's Ferry ... 304 417 9228

    • Todd

      I agree Harpers Ferry. People are becoming too conditioned to the government getting more involved in our daily lives.

    • Matt

      You missed the point.

      This bill is about placing checks on the government, not about invading an individual's right to privacy. An individual doesn't have any expectation of privacy in police interrogations in the first place.

      I'm all for privacy rights, particularly in the home, but this bill has nothing to do with that, and the effects of the bill won't matter much in terms of privacy either. You may want to re-read the article.

  • Harpers Ferry

    Not gonna happen because the SS would lose legal power

  • Unbelievable

    You're not getting it flossrancher. Scores of statements are taken using audio and/or video. This bill would make it mandatory. Not gonna happen. Not constitutional. Reality is that often times crimes are solved quickly when circumstances dictate fast pace info gathering including statements hand written and sometimes ORAL.

    • Harpers Ferry

      And how would videotape change that?

    • flossrancher

      Not constitutional? Which article? I just reviewed the list of the 7 articles and 27 amendments, and can't find the one which applies. Help me out.

      • Jason412

        There's nothing at all about this that's unconstitutional.

        Unconstitutional is locking someone up for a crime they didn't commit.

  • flossrancher

    Seems to me that a law-abiding officer would be scared to death to question anyone without keeping a video record of the encounter. The person could later make any kind of false claim--coercion, abuse, intimidation, etc.--muddying the investigation and imperiling the officer's reputation and livelihood. An honest officer would be proud to show his superiors, the defendant's lawyer, and the world the video of him doing his job the right way.

  • citizen

    This will pass. Same people in place that made it illegal for police to to record drug deals in a suspects house. Keep passing laws that is pro dirt bag. Also won't help police control meth labs. Control the drug or provide funds for the cleanup.

  • Unbelievable

    Lol! We don't live in a perfect world. Scores of statements are taken in police cruisers, on front porches, at agency facilities not equipped with audio/video equip, etc. These liberal do-gooders are clueless. That's what Judges and hearings are for, to test admissibility of statements!

    • Phil

      Where is the money going to come from to wire interview rooms, if some small departments have interview rooms? These systems can run into the thousands of dollars.