A recent New York Times op-ed urged the New York legislature to pass a pending bill mandating
videotaping of interrogations. The article concluded that the case for the bill is straightforward: “Because false confessions
are real and innocent people are jailed as a result. The evidence is overwhelming.”
Indeed, and this is a rare public policy issue that is easy to resolve. The benefits of mandatory taping are major,
the alleged drawbacks relatively trivial.
Citing the most recent DNA exoneration of a false confessor (a man who served more than twenty years for murder and
rape), a visitor writes: “One can only shudder to think what might have happened had the death penalty been imposed in this
I shudder to think some innocent people, false confessors and others, have been put to death. When Illinois’
then-Governor Ryan took stock of how a flawed justice system was producing wrongful convictions, he imposed a moratorium on
death sentences. That lead should be followed by governors in every death penalty state.
Needless to say, I do some complaining about public officials whose negligence or ignorance contributes to the tragedy
of false confessions. But, of course, there are heroes as well as culprits in this area. This recent obituary describes one such hero, who staved off injustice in the case of a prominent false confession decades