(Albany, NY; January 9, 2017) – In his state of the state agenda released today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged state lawmakers to pass reforms that would greatly reduce wrongful convictions by improving the way police conduct interrogations and identification procedures.
“Eyewitness misidentifications and false confessions have played a role in all of New York’s 29 wrongful convictions which were proven by DNA evidence and led to exonerations. The Governor’s plan includes scientifically-supported identification practices and recording of interrogations which would address both of these leading contributors to wrongful conviction in the state of New York,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “The reforms offered in the Governor’s proposal are key ingredients to a reliable and accurate criminal justice system and will go a long way in protecting New Yorkers from the unique horror of wrongful conviction.”
Rebecca Brown, Policy Director of the Innocence Project added, “We applaud the Governor for advocating for these police practice reforms, which have taken hold across the country. Nearly half the states in the nation – from Oregon to North Carolina – require the recording of interrogations, and 20 states now employ the blind administration of lineups, including states as diverse as Texas, Georgia and Illinois. Our sister states of New Jersey and Connecticut have already implemented both reforms statewide. The Department of Justice has adopted both sets of reforms for all federal law enforcement agencies.”
In his state of the state agenda, Governor Cuomo calls for several measures to reform the criminal justice system, including a law requiring police to videotape interrogations in full in serious felony cases and a law requiring improvements to the way photo arrays are conducted to eliminate the possibility of the officer conducting the procedure intentionally or unintentionally influencing the witness.
With 29 wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence, New York falls behind only Texas and Illinois in the number of wrongful convictions. Eyewitness misidentification contributed to 52% of New York’s 29 DNA exonerations and false confessions contributed to 48%.