Does video recording inhibit crime suspects? Evidence from a fully randomized field experiment

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Abstract

In partnership with a small city police department, we randomly informed or did not inform 122 crime suspects that their interrogations were being video-recorded. Coding of all sessions indicated that camera-informed suspects spoke as often and as much as did those who were not informed; they were as likely to waive Miranda at the outset and later; they were as likely to make admissions and confessions, not just denials; and they were perceived no differently by detectives on a range of dimensions. Looking at distal outcomes, we observed no differences in ultimate case dispositions. In terms of policy and practice, results did not support the hypothesis that recording-even when transparent, as required in 2-party consent states-inhibits suspects or alters case dispositions. At least for now, this conclusion is empirically limited to situations in which cameras are concealed and to interrogations that do not involve juveniles, homicides, or drug crimes, which we a priori excluded from our sample.

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Kassin, S. M., Russano, M. B., Amrom, A. D., Hellgren, J., Kukucka, J., & Lawson, V. Z. (2019). Does video recording inhibit crime suspects? Evidence from a fully randomized field experiment. Law and Human Behavior, 43(1), 45–55. https://doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000319

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