February 16, 2012

Yesterday, Benjamin Stevenson, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Florida in the organization’s Pensacola Regional Office, sent a letter to Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan requesting that he cancel constitutionally-questionable plans to install video cameras in attorney interview rooms in the county jail. The cameras would violate the rights of individuals in the jail by documenting privileged conversations between attorneys and clients and threatening any confidence that private attorney-client conversations were not being compromised by jail staff.

In September 2011, the ACLU of Florida discovered that jail officials had installed remote audio monitoring systems in the same interview rooms. Although the sheriff had this equipment uninstalled when the ACLU of Florida brought the issue to his attention, the proposed video cameras raise the same constitutional concerns that the audio equipment raised about the rights of individuals being held at the Escambia County Jail.

From the letter:

“In order to ensure a fair and just criminal trial and access to legal counsel, inmates have a constitutional right to privately confer with their attorneys. To accommodate this need at the jail, you have designated specific interview rooms (not normally used by visiting friends and family) for these conferences.”


“Given the constitutional concerns raised by the use of these video cameras in the attorney interview rooms, we ask that you immediately discontinue the planned installation of these cameras and take action to ensure legally privileged conversations necessary for a fair trial are respected in your facility.”

The letter sent by the ACLU of Florida is available here: http://www.aclufl.org/pdfs/2012-02-15-EscambiaCamerasLetter.pdf

2012 Press Releases