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Government Will Record Confessions, Statements

Cameras are still banned from the High Court, but more of them are coming to DOJ, the FBI, DEA, the U.S. Marshals Service and the ATF, all of which will be getting into the video production business.

In what it was signaling as a significant policy shift—and what could be a boon to video equipment supliers—Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday that starting July 11, any individuals in federal custody—as in "arrested"—but prior to their first court appearance, will have their statements and confessions recorded whenever that is possible and preferable on video.

Holder said that the presumption of recording would both document those confessions and statements and protect the detained individuals. “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,” he said, adding: “It will allow us to document that detained individuals are afforded their constitutionally-protected rights."

Video recording will be used "whenever possible," and the attorney general said he has already directed field offices to bone up on best practices in recording interviews.

And the recording won't necessarily stop at statements and confessions. "The policy applies in a place of detention that has suitable recording equipment, and it encourages video recording whenever possible and audio recording when video is unavailable," Holder said, but added. "The policy also encourages agents and prosecutors to consider electronic recording in investigative or other circumstances not covered by the presumption."