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Rep. West's bipartisan criminal justice reform bill receives first committee hearing

February 18, 2021
Thomas West News

COLUMBUS – State Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) announced today 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, received its first hearing in the House Criminal Justice Committee.

“This bill represents a significant criminal justice reform that ensures greater accountability in our criminal justice system and greater access to justice for all Ohioans,” said Rep. West. “HB 8 is commonsense legislation that will protect against false confessions, reduce wrongful convictions and protect law enforcement officials from false claims of wrongdoing during investigations. After we came very close last year, getting this bill across the finish line is a top priority of mine this time around.”

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 Miranda Rights 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 directing 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.

Identical legislation to HB 8 unanimously passed the House and the Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the 133rd General Assembly before stalling in the Senate.

Following today’s hearing, HB 8 awaits further hearings in the House Criminal Justice Committee.