There may be fewer court battles in the future about whether jailed federal criminal defendants truly confessed to crimes when law enforcement agents questioned them after their arrests.
Forget suspicions about surreptitious surveillance of prison inmates and know this much: When the FBI visits you the day after they throw you in the slammer, Big Brother WILL be watching.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new policy on May 22nd under which all parties should presume that interviews will be electronically recorded and, where possible, videotaped after a suspect’s or defendant’s arrest but before his first court appearance. Holder called it “a new step to raise our already high standards of accountability.”
“The professionalism of our personnel gives us the confidence to be as transparent as possible about how we perform our work,” he said.
This cuts two ways: Those electronically monitored won’t just be nervous suspects, but also federal law enforcement officers.
Holder said that the policy, which takes effect on July 11, applies to statements by individuals in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the United States Marshal Service.
“Creating an electronic record will ensure that we have an objective account of key investigations and interactions with people who are held in federal custody,” Holder said in a statement. “It will allow us to document that detained individuals are afforded their constitutionally protected rights.
“And it will also provide federal law enforcement officials with a backstop, so that they have clear and indisputable records of important statements and confessions made by individuals who have been detained.”