Sunday, February 27, 2011

Helping Domestic Abusers Incriminate Themselves

A year ago, New York City jails started recording inmates' telephone calls (except those protected by privilege--i.e. to doctors and lawyers). The results have been a windfall for prosecutors, who requested more than eight thousand copies of those recordings last year.

The tapes have proved most useful in domestic violence cases. It seems that abusers routinely provide evidence against themselves in phone conversations with victims, continuing to threaten, manipulate, and verbally abuse them from jail and often describing their crimes in detail. The threats likely play a large role in convincing victims to stop assisting police and prosecutors. Three-quarters of women who report domestic abuse later refuse to cooperate with law enforcement, often after talking to their abusers.

One domestic violence specialist in the Queens D.A.'s office says that the recorded phone calls have "revolutionized" how they handle these cases. The taped conversations paint a picture of intimidation, coercion, and manipulation for jurors, and the calls often violate court orders barring communication between accused and accuser.

"When you're talking about domestic violence cases," says a former California prosecutor, "...monitoring every jail cell is probably the single most important investigative procedure put in place in the last decade anywhere in the country."

Queens prosecutors have long been early-adopters of new methods for pursuing domestic violence cases, such as the use of digital photography as evidence of abuse more than 10 years ago.

Click here to read the full New York Times article, "Abuse Suspects, Your Calls Are Taped. Speak Up."

No comments:

Post a Comment