Recorded Confessions Bill

We often hear about criminals who confess to crimes, but should those confessions be required to be on tape, or is the word of an officer good enough?

That's one of the issues on the table at the Florida Capitol, and you can bet it brought police officers and deputies from far and wide to object.

Tallahassee police say Carlus Fountain confessed to Sunday's murder of James Dickey, and they recorded his statement on audio and videotape.

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would require confessions to be recorded, and any crime scene or patrol car admissions would be off limits in court.

Russell Smith with the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys says, "What we're looking to stop is confessions that were obtained, like in the Brandon Butler case, where they took a 16-year-old boy out in the woods and punched him in the face until he confessed to a crime he didn't commit."

But deputies and police officers turned out in force at a committee meeting Tuesday to tell lawmakers the required recordings would sink many statements and make it tougher to convict killers and dope dealers.

"Often times you're able to get into a situation where the suspect will go ahead and talk to you, and many times I'll talk to you, but it's not going to be recorded."

Ivey Scriven bought a picture of her son to the Capitol. He and his cousin were carjacked and murdered in a Polk County orange grove. She says the bill will only hurt victims of crime.

"They were brutally murdered for no reason, shot and killed for no reason, and I just don't see what it would benefit. No one taped my son's murder."

Five other states already require the recorded confessions, and while some officers say this may be in the cards in the future, the bill as written has far too many loopholes now.

The representative sponsoring the bill, Wilbert Holloway of Miami, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, so no one who showed up could actually speak for or against it.


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