July 21, 2020
Assembly Passes Legislation to Require Video Recordings of Juvenile Interrogations
Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus today announced the Assembly has passed legislation that would require video recordings of all interrogations of juveniles in family court (A.7970, Frontus).
The Assembly Majority has fought to ensure that when our youth end up in our juvenile justice system they are treated as children, not adults. We must protect their future, and that includes ensuring that they are treated justly, said Speaker Heastie. This legislation protects our youth during interrogations by providing accountability and transparency during the process.
Recording interrogations helps reduce false confessions and prevent wrongful convictions, said Assemblymember Frontus. Furthermore, it is essential that we ensure appropriate tactics are used on our children when obtaining a confession. Their future depends on our ability to deliver a justice system built on a foundation of integrity and transparency.
In addition to preventing false confessions, recording juvenile confessions will provide an objective basis for Family Court to evaluate the validity of a juveniles' waivers of rights as well as the substance of the statements themselves. Judges have reported frequent cases involving disparities in testimony between police officers and witnesses to the interrogation, such as parents.
Having an objective basis upon which the court can determine the accuracy of witnesses' testimony is invaluable. It protects the juveniles' statutory and constitutional rights, while protecting law enforcement by providing a reliable record of the circumstances surrounding interrogations and their compliance with statutory requirements and protocols.