Mandating videotaping of interrogations

22 Apr

The federal government is relatively late to the game on promoting electronic recordings of custodial interviews. For example, numerous studies have shown that “recording does not cause suspects to refuse to talk, fall silent, or stop making admissions.” The DOJ’s new policy, which went into effect on July 11, 2014, flips its previous presumption against recording to one in favor of it.

mandating videotaping of interrogations-51

Already, agents are required to document “[any] decision not to record any interview that would otherwise presumptively be recorded under” the new policy, but it is unclear exactly what is required in this documentation.

The paragraph explaining that the policy is for “internal Department of Justice guidance” only is boilerplate language used in many DOJ policies.

§ 9-27.150(A) (1997), (using similar language in policy laying out principles of federal prosecution); Memorandum from James M.

If internal accountability measures prove insufficient to compel compliance with the recording presumption, external accountability measures may become necessary.

The policy makes extremely clear that it does not confer on defendants any right to have one’s interview recorded. This lack of external accountability is not unique to this policy.