The Connecticut House of Representatives today voted to pass S.B. 1071, a bill to ban police from using deceptive interrogation tactics against children. The legislation now awaits action by Governor Lamont.
The following is a reaction from ACLU of Connecticut public policy and advocacy director Claudine Constant:
“Children should be safe and protected everywhere, including when they’re in a police interrogation room, facing down police who have handcuffs and guns. It’s wrong to lie to children in our daily lives, and it’s especially wrong, although currently legal, for police to lie to children during interrogations. Deceptive police interrogations most harm people whom our state has made most vulnerable, including Black and Latinx youth and people with disabilities. We are thrilled that today, the legislature took a stand for protecting children and against deceptive police interrogation tactics, and we urge Governor Lamont to sign this bill quickly.”
The legislation would make a police interview with a person under the age of 18 unusable in court if police interrogators knowingly used false facts, false promises of leniency, or threats during the interrogation, or if police threated to use force or denied the person’s physical and/or mental health needs.
Deceptive interrogation tactics by police frequently result in false confessions. At least 29 percent of Connecticut’s wrongful convictions involve false confessions, including those made by people who were youth at the time, such as in the cases of Bobby Johnson and Peter Reilly.
Lawsuits resulting from wrongful convictions involving police using deceptive interrogations have cost Connecticut’s taxpayers at least $37.5 million in state compensation and an additional $10.74 million in civil settlements.