The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Resolved: The US Federal Government should significantly reform its Criminal Justice System (Policy)

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/1/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,833 times Debate No: 20801
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)




This round will be a policy round. I will be on the Affirmative side and will present my case in the next round. This first round is for acceptance.

Please no ridiculous semantics, as in twisting words beyond what I clearly intended.

Cite your evidence, keep it clean, and overall just have fun!


I accept this challenge and await my opponents argument!
Debate Round No. 1


In an age where computers, cellphones, and even new calculators have cameras, it is a wonder that the criminal justice system has not fully caught up in technology: especially the federal government. The lack of technology and archaic methods of investigation in the federal government is an issue brimming with opportunity, and potential. Because the criminal justice system has potential that is being unused, I stand firmly:

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should significantly reform its criminal justice system by recording interrogations

Let’s examine two terms that will be used frequently in today’s debate round.

Definition 1. Custodial interrogation

“Custodial Interrogation" means an interview which occurs while a person is in custody in a Place of Detention

For the purposes of this round, I will be defining a place of detention as a federal agency’s interrogation room.

Definition 2. Electronic recording

“Electronic Recording" means an audio, video or digital recording of a Custodial Interrogation, beginning with a law enforcement officer's advice of the person's constitutional rights and ending when the interview has completely finished.”

With the definitions in mind, let’s move on to…

The criterion, or the way I would ask you to weigh this debate round, is net benefits.

Interviews are not recorded.

Although federal courts are tentatively starting to record, and many state police departments are recording interrogations, Thomas P. Sullivan, stated that

Federal investigative agencies do not routinely record custodial interviews. Rather, agents still make handwritten notes and later prepare typewritten summaries. This practice is sorely out of date.”[1]

Because the practice of handwritten notes is sorely out of date, I propose the following plan to enhance the federal criminal justice system.

Agency and Enforcement: The United States Federal government

Mandate 1: Mandatory Recording

Congress will pass a law mandating that all federal custodial interrogations performed by federal agencies are electronically recorded.

Mandate 2: Inadmissibility

Handwritten notes will no longer be accepted as evidence.

Mandate 3: Exceptions

The following is a set of permissible reasons to provide handwritten notes:

1) If the suspect request that he not be recorded. This statement should be recorded.

2) Equipment malfunction.

3) If the federal officer reasonably believed that recordation would risk disclosure of classified information, and recorded an explanation of the basis for this belief.

Funding: Funding will be appropriated by each federal agency as necessary.

The estimated cost for this plan is 110 million dollars.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice would be paying for most of this, and they have extremely large budgets. In fact, this plan would cost .00001 times their budgets.


Timeline: Implementation will begin immediately after an affirmative ballot. Recording will be mandatory in two years.

This plan would not only solve the problems with the status quo, but would also create several distinct advantages.

Advantage 1. Officers and Suspects Protected

One of the many problems with handwritten notes was the amount of arguments about whether or not the police officer used improper tactics to coerce a confession.

Thomas P. Sullivan testifies to the usefulness of recording interrogations.

“Recording custodial interviews is a tremendous benefit to the criminal justice system. A permanent record is created of what was said and done, how suspects acted, and how officers treated suspects. Officers are no longer subjected to unwarranted allegations about abusive conduct; those who may be inclined to use improper tactics cannot do so because their actions and words are being recorded.”[4]

Advantage 2. Decreased possibility of wrongful convictions

One of the most important advantages to this plan is that false confessions are easier to detect. Richard f. Ofshe, professor of sociology in the university of California, states that

Taping also allows third parties to resolve the courtroom "swearing contests" that arise when the suspect and the police offer conflicting testimony about what occurred during interrogation. In disputed confession cases the discrepancies between police officers' and defendants' accounts clearly indicate that one of the parties is either lying or mistaken. Of course, interrogators are sometimes falsely accused of deviant conduct. In the usual case, however, the police officer's testimony is treated as far more credible than the citizen's, whose reputability is compromised by his status as a criminal defendant. In many of the cases documented in this article, however, the interrogator claimed that the confessor supplied information that only the perpetrator could have known--only to have the suspect subsequently proven innocent and his ignorance of the crime facts revealed. To more accurately resolve whether the interrogator used coercion, whether the suspect knew the facts of the crime, and/ or whether he was made to confess falsely, one conclusion is inescapable: interrogations must be recorded in their entirety. "[5]

Advantage 3. Efficiency

Another benefit of recording custodial interrogations is that the whole system becomes more efficient, time-wise and accuracy wise. The Justice Project and Pew Charitable Trusts wrote in 2007:

“By preventing wrongful convictions, electronic recording of custodial interrogations benefits the criminal justice system as a whole by increasing reliability and efficiency. Fewer wrongful convictions helps increase public confidence in the system. Recordingalsoleads to greater efficiency. in that an objective record of the interrogation would reduce the need for and duration of pre-trial hearings on suppression of confessions, as there would be a clear and comprehensive record for the judge or jury to review.This saves attorney, judge, and court personnel time and expense.”[6]

Advantage 4. Money Saved

Even though this plan would cost at maximum 110 million dollars at the front-end, money would actually be saved in the long run. Thomas P. Sullivan stated:

"Most costs come on the front end, and they diminish once the equipment and facilities are in place and training has been given to detectives. In contrast, savings continue so long as electronic recording continues. "[7]

This evidence supports the fact that in the long run, as a taxpayer your money would be saved.

Advantage 5. Improved Interrogation

The police officer’s concentration is improved by recording. This is confirmed by Thomas P. Sullivan:

Without the need to make detailed notes, officers are better able to concentrate on suspects' demeanors and statements. They no longer have to attempt to recall details about the interviews days and weeks later when recollections have faded.”4

Advantage 6. Increased prosecution evidence

The Supreme Court Special Committee on Recording Custodial Interrogations found that:

Even if the defendant does not provide a confession, recordation of the entire interview allows the jury to see consistencies or inconsistencies or the evolution of a defendant’s responses to police questions.”[8]

In the end, we see that switching from old-fashioned, hand-written notes to electronic recording will benefit the criminal justice system as a whole, providing a comparative advantage.

Because the potential in interrogations is limited by our current system, I ask you to support reforming the criminal justice system, and do so by enacting our plan.


Note: I am sorry for bad formatting, this speech is already done in microsoft word



I thank my opponent for their intelligent opening argument and will begin as such.

Mandate 1: Mandatory Recording

My opponents entire policy reform rests upon such a law being passed by Congress. There have been multiple attempts to pass such a law (or something similar to it) within the United States. Both H.R. 6245 [111th] and H.R. 3027, state the exact policy you want implemented it did not pass Congress, it did not pass the Committee and has not been reintroduced. Congress does not want this passed (1, 2). Proposed twice, failed twice. It would be a waste of time to try a third time.

Mandate 2: Inadmissibility

Why can't handwritten notes not be accepted as evidence? Even if somehow a bill magically passes Congress and the President signs it into law, there is still a video so why not have another person connected to the plaintiff, not just the defense, give a direct perspective of the video. This second mandate creates a biased trial.

Mandate 3: Exceptions

Once again this bill is highly unlikely to pass Congress. But, if it does...

1) They probably would not request this but, okay.
2) Then fix the malfunction and delay the interrogation, or have backup system.
3) What kind of classified information would be leaked? Besides either way anything classified would be censored by either a video and sound technician or the FBI agent (in the case of notes).

Funding: By federal agencies.

Estimated Cost: 110 million dollars

I do not have a problem with the source of funding, I do have a problem with the estimated cost, since my opponent has not provided whether this is solely sound or also video I will say it is both sound and video. My opponents cost for this endeavor is seriously skewed according to Senate Bill 171, the cost of such a bill is completely unknown. You cannot estimate a cost since the cost cannot be estimated. Furthermore, I have a question, where do you propose to get these interrogation systems from?

Now the advantages.

Advantage 1.

In order for this advantage to be valid my opponent must define what an "improper tactic" is. If they refuse this advantage is null and void.

Advantage 2.

Wrongful confession happen so rarely that reforming the entire practices of the Criminal Justice System is not needed. According to J.P. Blair of the University of Texas San Antonio, and John E. Reid and Associates "99.6% of convictions involving confessions are true and correct." (3) Even that is a high estimate when "using national estimates of interrogations, arrests, convictions, and error rates, researchers have arrived at estimates of wrongful convictions resulting from false confessions that range from a low of 10 (.001% of all convictions) to a high of 840 (.04% of all convictions) per year." (4) Why should the entire system be reform for .4%?

Advantage 3 and Advantage 6.

These two advantages seem to contradict each other. One says expediency meaning quicker trials the other says the jury is going to have to see an entire 12 hour interrogation in order to find inconsistencies. Which one?

Advantage 4.

The total cost cannot be accurately measured according to the United States Senate. You cannot claim it saves money if there is no accurate cost assessment.

Advantage 5.

You cannot make this claim because for some people this could be entirely untrue. I, for example, find if I'm in a long boring conversation with another person (or in class) taking notes helps me concentrate. According to you, the opposite should be true. "They no longer have to attempt to recall details about the interviews days and weeks later" is that not what the notes are for?

Now I have a very important question. How is this a significant reform? Significant is defined as Sufficiently great or important to be worthy of attention; noteworthy. Seeing as there are some places within the government which are beginning to use electronic interrogation, your own sources state this, then how is it significant it is nothing new this would just be speeding up an already existing practice. Your plan does not fit the scope of the resolution.

Debate Round No. 2


I thank Con for responding in a timely manner.

Now before I begin the direct refutation of Con's arguments, I would like to mention a few clarifications to what a policy debate means.

In policy debate, we have a theoretical construct named "fiat power". This comes from the latin for "let it be done". (1)

Basically, when the mandates are reasonable and using the correct enforcement (such as in this case the federal government), they immediately come to pass. An unreasonable mandate would be "Iraq will stop fighting and there will be world peace, America will be victorious". Obviously, this is mis-construing the resolution that states the united states federal government should reform its criminal justice system.

In fact, this is in the judging manual for team policy debate (same as policy except with two people on each side). (2)

Now that we are clear on this, let's move on to Con's arguments.

Mandate 1. Mandatory Recording

Con argued that because previous similar legislation did not pass through Congress, my plan will not work. This is answered to in the introduction here about fiat power. Fiat power is there to eliminate arguments about "will this plan pass through Congress" and focus on the actual merits of the plan.

Mandate 2. Inadmissibility

I believe Con is confused on this issue. Before this plan, Officers would make handwritten notes of the interrogation, then submit that as evidence to the court. Under my plan, handwritten notes of the interrogations would not be acceptable simply because the police department has a video/audio recording of the interrogation.

It is assumed I mean handwritten notes of the interrogation.

Mandate 3. Exceptions

Once again this plan will be passed because of fiat power, but only if you vote Pro, which is another reason to vote Pro.

1) Conceded by Con
2) Many times malfunction does not become apparent. A backup system would cost more. This is not a reason to vote against me, especially since malfunctions are rare. This is simply a safeguard.
3) The reason this exception is in here is because it's in the statutes of the states that record interrogations. It's simply wise to have this in here, although it doesn't provide any kind of hindrance to the recording process. An example of national security is if the suspect knows about something that is not supposed to be publicized. Obviously, this is a rare occurance and nothing to roll over in your grave about.

Funding: Here is how I got the estimate. This is a maximum estimate based on simple logic.

Step 1: Each room costs 7,500 dollars at maximum. (3)

Step 2: Interrogation rooms are most likely used at least 10 times a year.

Step 3: There are 175,000 suspects at the federal level who get interrogated. (4)

Step 4: Doing the math, there are therefore 17,500 interrogation rooms, ten suspects each.

Step 5: Multiplying 17,500 by 7,500 per room gives us the estimated cost of: 131,000,000. I apologize it is off by 20 million, but given the number that is insignificant.

The fact is, it's only an estimate, but it's a maximum estimate. 7,500 dollars is the most it can cost per room, and to think that interrogation rooms are used less than 10 times a year is unreasonable. Thus, this is an estimate of the maximum my plan will cost.

Remember that the agencies that pay for this plan have substantial discretionary budgets, so this costs about .00001 times their budgets.

Regarding Con's question, the police departments will choose where to get the interrogation systems.

Advantage 1. Officers and suspects protected

1. It is not true that my evidence is void without said definition, because this is from a credible source saying that interrogators can not use improper tactics because they're being recorded.

2. Improper tactics are defined by the current system. It is not necessary to know how they are defined. An example of an improper tactic is physically abusing/torturing a victim. Once again, this definition is not necessary. The evidence is merely explaining that whatever police officers are not allowed to do in interrogations would be deterred by recording.

3. Con ignored part 1 of this advantage: the fact that officers are protected from unwarranted allegations

Advantage 2. Wrongful convictions

1. The actual amount of false confessions is unknown: because they're false, and they're confessions. When someone confesses to a crime that he didn't do and gets sentenced, many times it is not found whether he is actually guilty or not.

2. This is not the only reason to pass the plan.

Advantage 3 and 6.

This is a misunderstanding of the context of Advantage 3. Let me requote it:

"Recording alsoleads to greater efficiency, in that an objective record of the interrogation would reduce the need for and duration of pre-trial hearings on suppression of confessions, as there would be a clear and comprehensive record for the judge or jury to review."

As you can see, it is BECAUSE the jury gets to review actual evidence that time is saved. Basically, the amount of disputes about what happened in the interrogation room if there is no recording are diminished. Less disputes = time saved.

Secondly, where did Con get "12 hour interrogation" from?

Advantage 4. Money Saved

The evidence is not based on my estimation, it's based on empirical experience that recording saves money in the long run. This has been done at a state level, so we can see from past experience that it saves money.

One reason it saves money is the lowered amount of disputes. For example, if there is no recording of the interrogation, a defendant can claim he was physically abused and sue the interrogator, and he might even get away with it. In that case, the amount of money lost outweighs the money for the recording equipment with my plan.

Let me quote another piece of evidence regarding cost:

"Many police with whom we have spoken have observed that their expenditures are de minimus [minimal] when compared to the resultant savings. As discussed in Part IV, recording custodial interviews reduce pretrial disputes, lead to inreased plea bargains, reduce the risk of civil suits, and prevent convictions of innocent persons based on erroneous testimony." (5)

Advantage 5. Improved interrogation

I believe this is confusion on the part of Con. When an interrogator is trying to find faults in the suspect's testimony or draw out a confession, taking notes is simply required because he needs to be able to testify as to what the suspect said, and for him to testify he needs to remember what to say.

Taking notes simply distracts him from the interrogation because he has to pause to write things down. Also remember this is evidence form a credible source, not just a statement by me.


As stated before, 175,000 suspects are interrogated each year. 175,000 interrogations are changed by this plan. That is significant.


Con has been slightly confused on the issue of fiat power, which was the reason for his attack on mandate 1. I've responded to all his arguments, and I would like to note one thing:

The only evidence Con has read is that there are two bills that tried to do the same thing (irrelevant), and that false confessions are rare (irrelevant, since false confessions are not the only reason to record).

He seems to be ignoring that ALL of my advantages had evidence, and the citations are in the pastebin link. In order for him to prove his point he needs to reply to my evidence with credible evidence of his own.

Thank you, and vote Pro to gain six significant advantages, and to step forward in technology.

(2);(Supreme Court Special Committee on Recording Interrogations)
(4);(Bureau of Justice Statistics)
(5) (Thomas P. Sullivan)


I apologize for not knowing the specifics of policy debate and I will continue.

Mandate 1.

Similar as in exactly the same. But, this mandate is unreasonable because it relies upon a majority of Congressmen and women from both parties magically agreeing on this one issue, which they have not done so in the past. It may be the correct enforcement but, it is not reasonable to assume Congress will magically agree on this one particular issue. I have shown in the past bills pertaining to the exact thing you are arguing have not passed, therefore, it is not reasonable it will pass in the future.

Mandate 2.

You never answered the question of why can't an officers notes be admissible? Just because there is other evidence does not necessarily another account is bad.

2) The more safeguards the better.
3) If the suspect knows something that is not supposed to be publicized...then it would not be publicized.


I have provided a Senatorial Source showing you cannot estimate the cost of this policy.

Even with my opponents logic there are problems.

1. My opponent has provided no working link for the 7,500 dollars, and this 7,500 dollars would be an INITIAL cost of outfitting each interrogation room. There is still the cost of where to store the recordings, etc. I mean certain states have found the cost to be as high as 30,000 dollars....per session (1), and on a federal level this could be much higher.

2. Why would each room be used only 10 times per year? I mean when conducting a case EVERYTHING must be recorded not just suspects, you have to interrogate witnesses, family, etc. Each case could bring in over 10 people that need to be interviewed/interrogated all this must be recorded.

3. Until you provide a working link I hold this number highly doubtable. And even if 175,000 people are interrogated wouldn't this number change year to year?

4. Why only 17,500 interrogation rooms? There are hundreds maybe even thousands of Department of Justice buildings simply because there are many, many different agencies and divisions under the Department of Justice. Including the FBI, USMS, BOP, ATF, DEA, OIG, INTERPOL, etc. You cannot estimate the number of rooms, simply because there are to many interrogation rooms to deal with.

5. You cannot estimate the total cost of this program (if there is more crime each year it could cost more that year then years with less crime).

As for "police departments" choosing, on a federal level there are no "police departments". So would the FBI (for example) or the DOJ choose where these interrogation systems go?

Advantage 1.

1. What about something like sleep deprivation? Or withholding food or water? They are considered improper tactics how can this be recorded?

2. How do you know there will be a deterrence factor? An there is never any physical abuse simply because that is to easy to spot. Police officers almost never physically abuse (as in punch for example) a suspect simply because it is counter-productive and any "evidence" received will be thrown right out.

3. There still will be unwarranted allegations whether or not this is used. The person would now complain they were "tricked" into confessing and they never actually committed the crime.

Advantage 2. Wrongful Convictions

1. I have provided very credible sources, in a large police department and a University, giving these numbers. Furthermore, your source says three things AND a false confession meaning all of them tie to the false confession. So that statement was talking about false confessions.

Advantage 3 and 6.

There will still be pre-trials and motions. The defense will argue their suspects constitutional rights were violated by such and such. They will file motions whether or not the notes are hand-written or not. They want to win. Overwhelming the prosecutors with motions is a good way to do that.

Furthermore, in order to see whether to confession was obtained legally they will have to review the ENTIRE confession. A suspect can be held legally without charges filed against them (no evidence) for 24 hours without charges being filed (and if it is a terror suspect this turns to indefinitely under the Patriot Act). Do you think the FBI is just going to let them sit there without being talked to or interrogated? No. They are going to interrogate this person extensively to try and gain information, yes. This can last for hours. All this has to be recorded and replayed as part of the trial meaning MORE TIME. Once charges are filed, they can be held until their trial date. Meaning this could be months. So guess what? More interrogations, all of which have to be recorded and replayed as evidence. More video that needs to be played=much more time spent. This is also discounting the time the prosecutors will have to use to review all of this video, who knows how long that would take. Interrogations are not short and sweet as Pro seems to think.

Advantage 4.

The state police are much different from the federal police. Anyway, I shall continue.

Let's say for a second that it can be estimated how much it will cost the DOJ to implement this plan. The question is, how many manhours will be spent reviewing these long videos of interrogations making sure no abuse was carried out? All interrogations and interviews must be recorded. But, not all suspects confess to a crime, even if they committed the crime. These interrogations are long and they will have to be reviewed. Time is money.

How can a defendant claim physical abuse? Physical abuse causes bodily harm. If there is no actual evidence they were abused....they were not abused.

Advantage 5.

My opponent seems to think this is what will happen in an interrogation.

"Suspect: I didn't do it...I never jumbled up my words.
Interrogator: wait a second while I go review what you said on the video screen outside"

That will never happen. The interrogator is not going to get up. They still will have to take notes as to recall what the suspect said earlier in the interrogation as to use it against them later. The only difference now is their notes will not be admissible as evidence. but, they still will have to take them.


A questionable, 175,000 suspects are interrogated each year for hours on end. Another half of a million non-suspects, and witnesses are questioned for hours at a time. This means hours and hours of video and sound have to be reviewed by the prosecutors. Time is money. This will take much more time costing much more money.


I believe I have resolved the issue of "fiat power" in stating it is unreasonable to assume Congress will suddenly come to an agreement on this issue when they have not done so in the past.

My evidence is completely valid. The two bills show your first mandate is unreasonable to assume. False confessions being extremely rare is completely relevant as it is one reason to put it in place.

My opponents advantages can be summed up as such:

1. Protection- my opponent has not showed there will in every case be a deterrence factor.

2. Decreased wrongful convictions- over false confessions which happen rarely

3. Money- logically, prosecutors and defense attorneys will have to review hours of video and sound. Time is money.

4. Increased evidence- the Interrogator will still take notes.


Debate Round No. 3


Although Con has apologized for not knowing the specifics of policy debate, he has continued with his point under mandate 1, which again is totally irrelevant.

I will now proceed.

Mandate 1.

Once again, this argument is completely irrelevant. Imagine if all policy debates consisted of challenging whether Congress will pass or not. It would be a nightmare for Pro.

I request that Con drops this misunderstanding.

Mandate 2.

1) Why is an officer’s account of an interrogation necessary if there is a video recording? Handwritten notes pertaining to the interrogation are not necessary with this plan.

Mandate 3.

1) Exactly. As I said, this exception is a safeguard. I would also like to note that Con is supposed to support the status quo, he cannot propose a different way of doing things. In Policy debate, Con defends what the current system does, not what it should do. Thus Con cannot ask for more “safeguards”, because the status quo doesn’t even recording interrogations in the first place.

2) I fail to see Con’s point here. How is this a reason to vote against me?


I have provided my math showing you can do some estimation, although inaccurate.

1. Is Con blind or what? My link was the evidence. Go back to my speech and you will see I cited evidence from the supreme court special committee saying each room costs at the most 7,500 dollars. In response to his evidence, 30,000 dollars was not per session, it was in one department. Note that a department can have more than one interrogation room.

2. I agree. Interrogation rooms are used more than 10 times per year. This is why there are most likely less interrogation rooms than my estimate states, and this is why my estimate is a maximum estimate.

Please note that I’m not trying to count the cost that this will take until the end of the world, I’m just calculating the front end expense. Con conceded to my MAIN link as to why my estimate is good.

3. Con continues to ignore my evidence. I provided evidence that there are 175,000 people each year. Yes, it will change from year to year, but not drastically.

4. Continuing to ignore the math. Con agrees that each interrogation room is used more than 10 times per year. I’ve provided PROOF that there are 175,000 people per year interrogated (see my evidence in that round). Thus if you divide 175,000 people by 10, (in other words each interrogation room covers 10 people), you get 17,500 interrogation rooms. Let’s say each room is used 20 times a year. Then divide 175,000 by 20 and you get 8,750. Even less.

As you can see, the price can only be lower than my estimate, given that Con AND Pro agree interrogation rooms are used more than 10 times a year and that I have provided evidence for the rest (which Con has ignored).

Lastly, I’d like to mention interrogation rooms are not in every agency. In fact, here in Washington the department of homeland security has no interrogation room so they have to go to a different agency to interrogate suspects. Just a thought to munch on.

5. Once again I’ve proved everything with either logic that Con has agreed to, or evidence that Con has ignored.

Excuse me, I meant federal agencies will choose. I accidentally use the words police departments sometimes. To clarify this point, each federal agency, such as FBI, will choose the equipment for their own interrogation rooms. They all individually choose. This point doesn’t even matter.

Advantage 1.

  1. Con is acting like federal agents are always trying to be abusive. Fact: There are some bad apples. We can’t always deal with every single situation.
  2. How do I know there’s a deterrence factor? Con keeps on bringing up points which are exceedingly nit picky. Logically, a federal agent knows what he is not allowed to do. If there is a camera recording, of course there’s a deterrence factor. You think he’ll abuse the suspect on film? Logically, NO.
  3. It’s all on film, the defense/prosecutors can easily review and see if the suspect was tricked or not. Once again, Con continues to provide no evidence for his points and is using exceedingly nit picky arguments.

Advantage 2.

  1. Con’s sources are indeed credible to the point of how much they know. Just because someone is credible doesn’t mean he knows how many false confessions there are in the system. Once again, no police department or University or think tank or professor or genius can know how many false confessions there are total. This is something that can’t be quantified, evidence or not.
  2. “Furthermore, your source says three things AND false confessions…” I don’t get what Con is trying to say here. My source is saying that to more accurately assess coercion, to know if the suspect knew the facts of the crime, and to see if he confessed falsely, we need to record interrogations. I ask Con to clarify this.

Advantage 3 And 6.

Yes there will be disputes. But they can easily be slapped aside by playing the part of the interrogation that proves them wrong. For example, a dispute about Miranda rights could be easily thrown aside by playing the first part of the interrogation.

The amount of time it takes to argue over a simple thing like Miranda rights if there’s no proof on either side completely outweighs the amount of time it takes to simply replay a recording. It can take days to argue, while playing the recording takes minutes.

I don’t want to continue arguing this point because I would like to point out I have evidence from a credible source who says disputes are lower. The person in my evidence knows a lot more about recording than either Pro or Con does, let’s listen to the evidence please.

Advantage 4.

First, state police and federal agents are very different, yes. But their interrogation rooms are not. The cost is the same, you pop a camera into the room and maybe build a central control room, doesn’t matter whether the people doing it are federal or state.

Second, a recording only has to be reviewed if it’s going to be used as evidence in court. As Con agrees, suspects don’t always confess, so evidence from interrogations is not frequent. Also you have to remember what the alternative to reviewing a recording is: writing a whole report on how it went. Let’s take this 24 hour interrogation example Con likes to use. Imagine waking up the next morning after conducting an interrogation, looking at your notes, and having to write exactly what happened during the interrogation. Good luck. That will take even longer than simply watching the relevant part of the video in which the confession happened.

Lastly, defendants claim all kinds of things. There are tons of cases online, just look it up.

Once again no evidence of any kind proving Con’s points.

Advantage 5.

Okay? Apparently Con is now an expert in interrogations and knows exactly everything that happens. Forgive the sarcasm, but I actually found this humorous because it was completely irrelevant.

Once again I have evidence, Con doesn’t.


Con conceded significance and tied this back to money saved.

The fact is, Thomas P. Sullivan, my main evidence source, did a survey of 600 police departments (state level) who record interrogations. It saved them money in the end.

Con can speculate all he wants but the empirical evidence is on my side.


Once again Con is misunderstanding fiat power. It’s there so we don’t have to have an ugly argument about Congress every single debate round. It would be a mess. Ask any policy debater whether passing things through Congress with fiat power is possible, and they will say yes.

Con’s argumentation can be summed up as: nit picky without evidence. He has provided flawed logic based on assumptions and has not provided much evidence to back himself up. I have used 12 pieces of evidence (plus the definitions), while Con has used 5. I would like to clarify that in the last round the evidence that said (3) is supreme court special committee, there are two separate links on (2) since it was messed up.

Thank you for reading, I urge you to vote Pro.



I'll drop my mandate arguments and continue


1. Your link to the site is broken. I do see. You have not fixed the link, therefore, we cannot know if this number is even credible. SB 171 "Unknown reimbursable local start-up costs[...]Unknown potential GF trial court savings" (1). It is unknown how much it would cost.

2. Why couldn't there be more interrogation rooms used more than 10 times per year? Most of your links do not work.

3. I do not ignore your evidence...your link continuously fails. And why can it not change drastically year to year?

4. I to can provide my own math.

We'll say 175,000 is correct for now.

175,000 suspects * 10 (a low number for a federal case, witnesses, experts, etc.)= 1.75 million people (low estimate)
Now my opponent attempts to basically guess how many interrogation rooms the government controls by making up the number 10. But, we'll go with it. Divide by 10 and your at the original 175,000. Now even if we accept the 7,500 dollar per system (could be higher could be lower depending on the training etc.) Your already at a 1.3 billion dollars...this is not taking into account training technicians and storage of the video and sound files.

You cannot accurately estimate the cost....

If each chooses their own equipment then couldn't the cost be higher if they choose more expensive equipment?

Advantage 1.

1. But, the ones who are abusive will not be deterred. See number 2 for more details. And if you cannot deal with these situations why change the status quo at all?

2. Shall I bring up the DOD and the CIA? How about Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharid? They were federal agents. They knew they were not supposed to be doing err...what they were doing (torture). And they did it anyway. Empirical evidence at it's finest. They were not deterred from using TORTURE. What makes my opponent think federal agents within the United States would refrain from say depriving someone of sleep on camera?

3. The United States Supreme Court held in 1969 in Frazier v. Cupp 394 US 731 (1969), that using trickery in interrogation was not a basis to disregard a confession or evidence. Other landmark cases coming to this conclusion include: U.S. v. Harris 914 F.2d 927 (7th Cir. 1990), Holland v. McGinnis 963 F.2d 1044 (7th Cir. 1992), State v. Kelekolio 849 P.2d 58 (Haw. 1993), Lucero v. Kerby 133 F.3d 1299 (10th Cir. 1998), and U. S. v. Byram 145 F.3d 405 (1st Cir. 1998). Have I backed this up enough?

Advantage 2.

1. I have provided a source, 2 in fact, who have studied these topics for enough time to come to this conclusion.

2. So your source deals with false confessions. If we assume that false confessions happens for such a small minority, why should the entire system be changed for this tiny minority? If something works 97% of the time should it be changed for the sake of the 3%? I say no because we do not know how this will impact the entire system.

Advantage 3 and 6.

Fine less disputes, this does not change the fact, more time will be spent reviewing all of the interrogations to make a case. Meaning less efficiency and more money used in preparing for a trial...logically, the prosecutors are going to review the opponent has conceded the time spent reviewing these videos will outweigh the money saved from less disputes.

Advantage 4.

It's a bit more complicated than just a camera in a room and a control room...but, they are similar. Not exactly the same but, similar. A federal interrogation room is a bit more high tech than say a state police interrogation room.

So how exactly does my opponent plan on figuring out whether the video is going to be evidence? By reviewing the weeks worth of interrogation. So here's the choice: video taping weeks worth of interrogations and making the prosecutors review the weeks of interrogations in order to build a case, or make an interrogator rack their brains trying to figure out what happened and come up with a detailed account of the interrogations thus, making the entire process cost less money and take less time to build the case. With detailed enough notes, an interrogator will be able to figure out exactly what happened during the interrogation.

Advantage 5.

It is completely relevant. I never tried to discount your source. I am merrily stating interrogators will still take notes to recall what happened later on during the interrogation. I'll give you another example, lets take a rather short 5 hour interrogation. The second question asked (this is probably completely wrong) is what color was the car you were driving. The suspect answers blue. The interrogator does not write this down. Fast forward 4 hours. The interrogator asks the same question what color was the car? The suspect this time answers red. Do you think an interrogator will be able to remember such a detail 4 hours later? Most likely, no. Notes will still be taken so they can use the suspects own words against them. This scenario is probably completely off, but, I hope you can see what I'm saying here, no human being can remember trivial details, which may be quite important later without notes. Logic.


Based on logical reasoning it would cost the prosecutors office much more money which is part of it's significance. I would also like to see this survey because upon reading through Mr. Sullivan's paper (or article) I find no mention of a survey.

The problem is not that I could not find the source (I figured that out). The real problem is your links were broken. I get a 404 Error Message Screen. (Besides that is the Supreme Court of NJ, not the United States). You still cannot estimate a total cost.

Debate Round No. 4


I thank Con very much for dropping the mandate arguments as they were confusing and irrelevant.

I will now proceed to refute his last argumentation.


1. For some reason messed up the formatting of two of my links. If the link is broken, it's because added a space to the end of the URL. Just remove the space to see the article. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Secondly, Con's evidence was misquoted. He said that the senate couldn't come up with an estimate, but click on the link and look right under the quote: it estimates how much the plan would cost. As we can see, the cost is estimateable.

2. Because if ALL interrogation rooms are used 10 times per year, and there are 175,000 suspects, then we know how many interrogation rooms there are total.

3. I am sorry about the links, I believe it was the's formatting messing it up. See 1. for how to fix it. Also if you look at the amount of suspects, it doesn't change drastically year to year. Plus, why does that matter? Suspects have nothing to do with the cost.

4. This math is completely flawed.

Con seems to think that the cost of interrogations is based on the amount of people interrogated. That is not the case. It's based on the amount of interrogation rooms.

Con multiplied my number of 7,500 per room by 175,000 suspects rather than by the amount of interrogation rooms, so this math is flawed and should be disregarded.

The federal agencies will most likely choose the best price for their equipment. Plus, 7,500 is a MAXIMUM estimate by my evidence. Once again Con continues to make nit picky arguments.

Imagine a case to send twenty soldiers to Russia to deliver an envelope. Besides the fact that the case is obviously dumb and frivolous, you could argue that the plane might crash. But that's such a nit picky argument it should be considered.

I would urge you as a voter to look at each argument and realize that Con has not provided much evidence to back things up, and most of his arguments are mitigation, not reasons to vote against me.

Advantage 1.

1. Con is very confusing here... The difference between Guantanamo Bay etc. and this plan is that this plan RECORDS, guantanamo bay didn't. A federal agent isn't going to be abusive when there's a camera recording his EVERY move.

2. I don't get Con's point here. I agree trickery in interrogation is not a basis to disregard a confession. I never said trickery is an abusive tactic.

Con is actually supporting the fact that interrogations should be recorded: so we can stop any abuse coming up!

Advantage 2.

1. These sources are talking about the amount of KNOWN wrongful convictions. There are many that might not be known.

2. Once again, this is a logical fallacy. My plan is not all for preventing wrongful convictions, I have 5 other advantages! This plan is not for 3% of the criminal justice system, it is for much more.

Advantage 3. and 6

I never conceded this point, I don't know where Con got this from. I responded to the argument about reviewing recordings by mentioning that not all recordings will be used for evidence.

Also I want to repeat, there is no evidence behind my opponent's argument while mine does have evidence.

Con conceded less disputes, which does save money.

Advantage 4.

Since when was a federal interrogation room more high-tech? That's an extremely random statement and once again it doesn't even matter.

First of all, I'm not the one figuring out whether the video is going to be evidence, it's the prosecutors. This is a policy debate round.

Second, Con jumped from "24 hour interrogations" to "weeks worth". When will he make up his mind? I've never heard of an interrogation that lasts a week.

Third, there's only one interrogation per case. That's how it works. The suspect is thrown in jail, interrogated, and then the system continues.

Fourth, I would like to reference what he says in the next section as support for this. He says that the interrogator will probably not remember such details. (like what color of car was mentioned). Thus it follows that the interrogator will not be able to give a detailed account of the interrogation a day or more later.

Once again, Con has no evidence against this. I have evidence.

Advantage 5.

This example is flawed because the interrogator doesn't need to know the suspect's inconsistency in testimony until AFTER the interrogation. After the interrogation he can look at the recording and notice the difference in testimony. In fact, remember my evidence under Advantage 6. It says that recordation of the entire interrogation will allow investigators to see inconsistencies in testimony.

This response does not apply.

Lastly, the interrogator is allowed to take notes, he just can't submit them as evidence. So why are we arguing this. This is not a reason to vote Con at all.


Based on flawed logical reasoning which in turn is based on assumptions, it would cost them more money.

Which do you prefer, voters? Evidence clearly stating that recording saves money, or some assumptions tied together with some logic to come up with the wrong conclusion that it doesn't save money?

Mr. Sullivan has written several articles. Unfortunately the article I'm referencing is something you have to pay for since it's part of a law review. Here's a link:

But in that article he talks about the survey.

Yes it is the new jersey supreme court, but that doesn't matter. It's still a credible source that's referencing previous experience to show that it costs 7,500 per interrogation room.


Now since this is the last round, I would like to mention some things.

First of all, Con is not allowed to bring up new arguments in the next round, since I have no opportunity to respond to them.

I would urge you to be cautious when reading through the last argument by Con to find fallacies, and I encourage you to read through mine again after to see that his arguments don't actually respond to mine.

Here are some voting issues, or basically reasons why you should vote Pro.

Voting issue 1. Comparative Advantage

There are several advantages to recording interrogations.

Advantage 1. Officers and suspects protected.

Advantage 2. Decreased possibility of wrongful convictions

Advantage 3. Efficiency

Advantage 4. Money saved

Advantage 5. Improved interrogation

Advantage 6. Increased prosecution evidence

I've responded to all of Con's arguments against my advantages, and they still stand.

Please remember that I have used evidence from the beginning of this debate, while Con has used minimal evidence.

That leads us to:

Voting issue 2. Evidence

All of Con's major arguments have been based off of assumptions and so-called "logic", but he has not really responded to the actual evidence.

His first two pieces of evidence were just mentioning bills that were not passed. We both agreed to end the argument on this since it was a simple misunderstanding of policy debate, and Con has not done this type of debate before so it's undrestandable.

His second two were talking about false confessions. Once again, they may have spent years on this but they only know about a fraction of the amount of false confessions.

His next evidence was saying the cost could be 30,000 dollars "per session", but the evidence actually said one department cost 30,000 dollars to outfit with recording equipment. Note that it must have had several interrogation rooms. This evidence was misquoted.

The last evidence he quoted was also misused because he said that they couldn't come up with an estimate of how much this costs, but right after what he quoted, the original article estimated it would cost 5 million.

I clearly have provided superior evidence and thus have proven my side of the arguments further.

For these two reasons, I urge you to vote Pro.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this debate.



I thank my opponent for their response and will continue.

I will be as brief and to the point as I possibly can.

My source said it was "POTENTIALLY in the range of $5 million…costs could greater." And if you look further down the page there is an "Unknown potential GF trial court savings". You cannot accurately estimate the start up cost. The total cost cannot be fully estimated as this includes the cost the prosecution would incur.

Advantage 1.

1.My opponent did not answer this question.
2.There is VIDEO and SOUND documentation of "enhanced interrogation" (aka torture) techniques as I have said before. These videos, are errr quite brutal, that is the reason I did not provide the documentation. If you really want to see the video. Google CIA+torture+video or DOD+torture+video. Not for the faint of heart…
3.My opponent implied in round 4 trickery was abusive. "the defense/prosecutors can easily review and see if the suspect was tricked or not."

Advantage 2.

1.The key word in my opponent's statement contains "could". There could be or there could not be. My points still stand. We can only deal with what we know not what we do not know.
2.It still is a major part of your plan.

Advantage 3 and 6

Logically, somebody will have to review these tapes. That would be the D.A. office. The hours spent watching and reviewing these hours of tapes means more money will be spent reviewing the tapes. More time will be spent reviewing the tapes in order to construct an argument then constructing a "dispute" case. Time is money.

Advantage 4.

Federal budgets are normally higher than state police budgets. Thus, better equipment.

Exactly. The prosecutors have to watch the entire interrogation from start to finish meaning spending time. Time is money.

I did not literally mean a one week interrogation. I meant a series of interrogations over the course of a week. (9 hours one day, 5 the next, etc.)

No there is not only one interrogation per case. When a suspect is awaiting trial the FBI can interrogate this suspect as many times as they want. They are effectively in control of the police force holding them.

An interrogator writing detailed notes will write down the color of the car simply because it is a detail. Someone who is lying about a crime will not remember the small details. Thus, the notes.

Advantage 5.

It is self-evident that the main goal of any interrogation is to get the suspect to confess to the crime as quickly as possible (I mean why else have the interrogation?). In order to do that during an interrogation, the interrogator needs to find inconsistencies in the person's statement and pry upon these inconsistencies. Thus, the notes. These notes allow the interrogator to know what happened hours before. Without them they have no clue.

Since the interrogator is allowed to take notes, and these notes are beneficial to the interrogation process, how are interrogations enhanced? They are not.
Debate Round No. 5
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Zealous1 6 years ago
Not Caleb, Gio.
Posted by 6 years ago
Haha, all this sounds awfully familiar, haha *cough Caleb*cough.
Posted by Zealous1 6 years ago
Thanks for the tips, but the formatting also does do weird things even when I don't copy from word. It tends to scrunch things together that don't need to be scrunched.

Significance is really the main thing to push against my case. Even then we usually win on the ballot.

As for funding, I overestimated on purpose. I want to make sure it's definitely a maximum.

The topicality thing doesn't fly in our league, I would respond that although it's modernizing/improving, it's a reform. Reforming is changing to make better.

Lastly, there are some other things people bring up against recording, but I have evidence against it all :P

It's the strongest case in our league with the resolution at the moment.

Thanks for the thoughtful ballot! I like good judges :)
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
Good debate.

Note that there is a "paste from Word" feature in the DDO rich text option. Also, Word has a "remove all formatting" command. Another possibility is to "save as plain text" from Word. The formating can be added back after pasting. The bad formatting was a problem.

I think the Pro case could be defeated on significance, if that were pressed hard. It seems to me recording interviews is a modernization rather than a reform. Other modernization might include systematically building a DNA database, having more powerful weapons available, and playing a recording of the rights speech. Not every improvement is a system reform. Systm reforms might include changing the rules of evidence, prosecution appeals, or changes in the rules for search warrants.

I suspect there are reasons for not recording interviews that did not come up. Maybe it's inconvenient in practice. I dunno.
Posted by Zealous1 6 years ago
Con, please drop Mandate 1.

It is a completely irrelevant argument in policy debate, you can ask on the forums if you want.
Posted by Zealous1 6 years ago
Haha no it's fine. I'm glad you forfeited for a good reason, though, not just because you were scared or something like half the other forfeits are :)
Posted by THEBOMB 6 years ago
Oh I remember that one...I think I forfeited that one when I was having a wonderful thing called surgery...oh well...sorry about that...10 months later....
Posted by Zealous1 6 years ago
Resolution, not revolution :P

It was about foreign aid to Russia. I'll post my argument when I get home and can copy and paste my first speech onto here.
Posted by THEBOMB 6 years ago
I dont think I've ever debated on the Russian Revolution....but, I'll give Policy a go haha
Posted by Zealous1 6 years ago
You've debated me before, it's just like the debate we had on the russia resolution.

Pretty much debate the merits of the plan, and you can ask questions at the end of your speech as "cross-ex" questions.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made a good case. Con's strongest argument was about the significance. I think Con should have pressed an argument that it isn't a "system reform" but just a "standard practice." As it was, Con didn't make a strong enough attack on that aspect. I think Pro overestimated the costs; video is cheap and they already interrogating in rooms. Pro is correct about it being a "should" resolution -- Congress "should" approve it. Pro's formatting problems interfered with following the debate.