In Illinois, they carry the same sentence: 15 years in prison. That's right: using your cell phone to record cops beating up a citizen, for example, can land you in prison for 15 years (although it's perfectly legal for the cop to record you).
An eye-opening news video entitled "Valley Man Faces 75 Years in Prison for Recording Law Enforcement" documents the current plight of Illinois citizen Michael Allison. Allison is facing 75 years in prison for five counts of openly audio taping public officials – a sentence usually reserved for murderers. When he recently sued police for discriminatory law enforcement, the judge at trial refused to provide a court reporter. Understandably wanting a record of the proceedings, including the cops' testimony, Allison told the judge he would record them himself. He was later arrested and the recording confiscated.
These laws are not limited to Illinois. Designed to protect cops and public officials from public scrutiny, they exist in many states across the country. And one has to question why they exist at all in a supposedly free and open society — much less carrying sentences usually reserved for murderers and rapists. Are cops and officials that afraid of having their conduct exposed to the light?
I wonder if taping a cop in China or North Korea is punished as severely as in Illinois – if at all?
(Thanks to David Baker.)