NYC Prosecutors Use Taped Calls Of Domestic Violence Suspects Against Them


New York City prosecutors are using domestic violence defendants’ words against them in court, says the New York Times. Since last year, every prisoner telephone call in city jails, except calls to doctors and lawyers, has been recorded. Prosecutors asked for copies of the recordings 8,200 times last year. Once those accused in domestic violence crimes get on the jailhouse telephone, the Times says, “many of them cannot seem to stop themselves from sweet-talking, confessing to, berating and threatening those on the other end of the line, more often than not the women they were charged with abusing.”

The tapes overcome a big hurdle prosecutors face in such cases: that 75 percent of the time, the women who were victimized stop helping prosecutors, often after speaking to the men accused of abusing them. Scott Kessler, domestic violence bureau chief for the Queens district attorney, said the recordings “revolutionized the way we're able to proceed.” In the Queens courthouse where 6,000 domestic violence cases are handled each year, the jailhouse recordings have become a guide to the chilling intimacies of domestic violence. “We have the ability now,” Kessler said, “to prove what we've always suspected, which is that the defendants in domestic violence cases are in constant contact with their victims, and they use various means and methods to try to have the case dropped.”

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