Cameras in the Interrogation Room

Friday, August 15, 2014


A new Justice Department policy requires the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and several other federal law enforcement agencies to videotape interrogations with suspects held in custody. It's a change lauded by all sides of the adversarial process. But, as UCLA law professor Jennifer Mnookin tells Bob, sometimes the power of video can interfere with its objectivity.


Jennifer Mnookin

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [5]


See also the 5 December 2013 _Fresh Air_ piece "Beyond Good Cop/Bad Cop: A Look At Real-Life Interrogations":

Aug. 22 2014 01:18 AM

Jason, I don't see either of those as problems. You SHOULD lose other evidence, affidavits, etc. when video/audio is not able to be produced, otherwise the law/policy is completely useless, because you can just "have a malfunction" whenever you feel like conducting a questionable interrogation. Run two cameras if you're worried about legitimate technical failures, or have a guy checking to make sure the thing is working in the moment.

And people intuitively not talking as much in front of a microphone is great. Participating in any interrogation without counsel present is almost begging to be taken advantage of. Any part of the system that successfully encourages people to use more common sense and take advantage of their rights is likely to increase the cause of justice being served.

Aug. 18 2014 08:47 PM
Barbara from New York

Great to have a Law Professor from L.A., surrounded by the film industry, who astutely picks up on how the framing of this kind of videotaping (to include just suspect or suspect and interrogator) can influence a viewer's reaction. More generally, Prof. Jennifer Mnookin gave really thoughtful commentary. Thank you!

Aug. 17 2014 04:19 PM
Jason from Washington stata

I'm a prosecutor in a jurisdiction that doesn't require video footage of interrogations. Although I'd love to have all our interrogations & confessions on video, there are two other problems with the practice:

1. When the camera malfunctions, the microphone doesn't work, or the computer storing the footage crashes, you don't just lose the video. You will often lose even a written, signed statement, notes or officer's recollection of the confession. Clever defense attorneys will argue that even a flaw in the video is cause to suppress all subsequent evidence. This can be assuaged by law enforcement agencies taping confessions as a matter of policy rather than having a legislative or judicial rule that requires taping interrogations.

2. People tend to stop talking in front of a microphone.

Aug. 17 2014 01:53 PM

Bob, what a brilliant and intelligent guest you had. Not sure why this was an OTM report, but it was great to listen anyway.

Aug. 16 2014 11:48 PM

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