All interrogations of suspects in serious crime cases, such as murder or rape, would be required to be recorded, if a bill introduced by state Rep. Phil Plummer becomes law.
“This is about accountability and doing what’s right,” said Plummer, R-Butler Twp.
A former Montgomery County sheriff, Plummer noted that his department recorded interrogations.
Recorded interrogations can protect against coercion, false confessions and wrongful convictions — an issue in the news with the release of “When They See Us,” a mini-series on Netflix about the Central Park Five case.
Plummer is co-sponsoring the legislation with state Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton. It has support from the Ohio Public Defender and Ohio Innocence Project, which is a legal clinic at the University of Cincinnati law school that has freed 24 wrongfully convicted Ohioans since 2003.
A 2017 survey by UC found 52 percent of law enforcement agencies in Ohio already have a written policy on recording suspect interrogations.
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“Our nation is on edge when it comes to trusting our judicial system,” West said. “We need a transparent and accountable process from start to finish.”
Recording would be required once the suspect is read his or her rights.
Exoneree Clarence Elkins said he believes required recording of interrogations would have been helpful in his case.
Elkins was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for the 1998 rape and murder of his mother-in-law, Judith Johnson, and rape and beating of his niece, Brooke Sutton. He served nearly eight years in prison before DNA evidence — collected by Elkins behind bars — pointed to Earl Mann as the true killer. Mann eventually pleaded guilty and Elkins was exonerated and won a $1.07 million settlement from the state and a $5.2 million settlement against the Barberton police.
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