On the Huffington Post yesterday, Justice Project President John Terzano writes about the case of Herman Atkins, an Innocence Project client who is featured in a
new YouTube video
. Atkins was misidentified and wrongfully convicted in California in 1998 and served 12 years before he was exonerated by DNA testing.
What happened to Mr. Atkins is not as uncommon as it should be. Eyewitness identification is notably unreliable. According to a detailed 2004 analysis of California wrongful convictions by San Francisco Magazine, faulty eyewitness identification was a factor in 60% of the 200 cases of people proven to have been wrongly convicted in the state since 1989.
The good news is that Senate Bill 756, sponsored by Senator Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles, Culver City), addresses the development of new guidelines for statewide eyewitness identification procedures.
The bill has already passed the State Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committee, and it will soon be heading to the Assembly Floor for a final vote. An earlier version of an eyewitness reform bill was taken up in the legislature last year, but it was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. If this new eyewitness reform bill passes the Assembly, the Governor will soon have an opportunity to sign into law this important reform.
Read the full post here
. (Huffington Post, 08/15/07)
Another call for reform in California published today:
When the Innocent Go to Prison in California, the Guilty Go Free
by Natasha Minsker.