"The state Assembly should be commended for passing a bill (A 5886-C) that would require police to videotape the interrogations of criminal suspects. The measure would reduce the likelihood that innocent New Yorkers are convicted of crimes they did not commit as a result of false confessions.
"Improperly conducted interrogations can and do result in false confessions. The videotaping of an entire interrogation allows the judge and jurors to see for themselves whether police officers used proper procedures or coerced the defendant to confess.
"The New York State Bar Association urges the Senate to enact the videotaping bill.
"We are disappointed that the Assembly failed to take action on a second bill (A 5317-A), which would address another factor contributing to wrongful convictions: mistakes by eyewitnesses in identifying suspects. This bill would change police lineup procedures to remove the possibility that a police officer-either inadvertently or deliberately-might influence a witness in selecting a suspect. The bill would require that lineups be conducted in a "double-blind" fashion, meaning the officer overseeing the lineup does not know the identity of the suspect.
The New York State Bar Association calls on both houses to pass the eyewitness bill (A5317-A).
"Passage of both bills would be a win-win for the innocent and for public safety. Each time an innocent person goes to prison, a guilty person is free to commit another crime."
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director of Media Services & Public Affairs