A civil rights advocacy group is raising concerns about the practice of jails eavesdropping on attorney-client phone calls made from inside of the facilities. Court Watch NOLA presented their findings to the New Orleans City Council and says the practice is done in prisons across the state. Executive Director Simone Lavine says recording those conversations is not constitutional.
“Where that privilege is subverted, so to as a malfunction of the legal system itself. A privilege that has been written into the law that exists over 350 years.”
Lavine says fears of surveillance are having a chilling effect on defendant’s openness with their defenders, specifically in Orleans Parish, which she says has the worst rate of wrongful convictions in the nation.
“If people know there is any chance that they are going to have this privilege taken away from them, robbed from them, they won’t feel that they can really tell their defense attorneys the truth.”
She says the act is leading to more innocent people ending up in jail, and that those conversations aren’t just being stored, there often being actively used against people in court.
“Prosecutors have you the information that they have listened to in those phone calls against defendants in their criminal cases.”