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Rep. West announces House passage of bipartisan criminal justice reform bill

April 15, 2021
Thomas West News

State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) today announced that House Bill (HB) 8, his bipartisan bill with State Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) to require the recording of interrogations for most major felonies, passed the Ohio House. 

“This bill ensures greater accountability in our criminal justice system and greater access to justice for all Ohioans,” said Rep. West. “HB 8 will protect against false confessions while also protecting law enforcement from false claims of wrongdoing. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on sending this critical reform legislation to the governor’s desk.”

HB 8 would require the audio or audiovisual recording of interrogations for felonies involving murder or sexual assault from the moment that a law enforcement officer’s questioning is reasonably likely to elicit incriminating responses, beginning when a person should have been advised of their rights to counsel and to remain silent, to when the questioning has completely finished.  

Nearly half of all states currently require or encourage electronic recording of interrogations in their entirety, and the U.S. Department of Justice issued a policy in 2014 for federal law enforcement agencies to record interrogations for individuals suspected of any federal crime.

According to a survey conducted in 2017 by the University of Cincinnati, about 52 percent of law enforcement agencies in Ohio already have a written policy on recording suspect interrogations, but HB 8 would make this practice mandatory statewide.

HB 8’s predecessor, HB 277, overwhelmingly passed the House in the 133rd General Assembly but stalled in the Senate. HB 8 is the second bill sponsored by Rep. West to pass the House today, following the chamber’s vote on HB 23. 

Following House passage, HB 8 awaits consideration from the Ohio Senate.