Police throughout Minnesota record in-custody interviews, a practice stemming from a 1994 state Supreme Court decision. At first, police and prosecutors lamented the ruling, predicting it would keep bad guys from confessing. Now, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press, it is clear that taped interrogations have not only proved valuable at trial, they have helped authorities avoid accusations of forced confessions and investigative misconduct. “It’s the best tool shoved down our throats,” said St. Paul police commander Neil Nelson. “We went kicking and screaming.”
Seven states and the District of Columbia, either by their supreme courts or by legislation, require some form of recording of in-custody interviews. They are Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico and Illinois. Other states, including California, are weighing similar requirements. “I use Minnesota all the time as a shining example of how this reform is a win-win situation for both law enforcement and for the defense and the courts system,” said Steven Drizin of Northwestern University School of Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. “A 12-year track of recording is one of our strongest arguments to other jurisdictions to get on board.” Jurors and judges no longer must rely on written police reports of interrogations to decide tricky legal questions, disputes over what was said, or allegations of coercion.