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Current Report on Recording Custodial Interrogations in the United States

By Thomas P. Sullivan

In 2002, only two states mandated statewide recording requirements for law enforcement departments when interrogating persons in custody — Alaska and Minnesota, both by decisions of their Supreme Courts. Not a single state legislature required recording, nor did the U.S. Department of Justice. A major change has taken place in the ensuing years. Now, as shown by the chart accompanying this article, 26 states and the District of Columbia have statutory, judicial, or self-imposed requirements that police questioning of arrested persons held in custody must be electronically recorded, either by audio or video or both.

The statewide statutes and court rulings vary according to a number of factors, including whether the recordings must be by audio, video or both; which crimes trigger the recording requirement; what circumstances excuse recording; and the courtroom consequences of failing to abide by the laws and rules. The hope is that in each passing year additional states will be added to

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