New York exonerees Yusef Salaam and Fernando Bermudez penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News, urging lawmakers to pass reforms proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo that would help prevent wrongful convictions.
Cuomo’s proposed reforms would address two of the primary causes of wrongful convictions: false confessions and eyewitness misidentification. The proposal includes requiring police to video-record interrogations from start to finish and providing law enforcement with the necessary training and resources to implement eyewitness identification practices that have been scientifically proven to protect against misidentification.
Salaam and Bermudez were wrongfully convicted based on false confessions and eyewitness misidentification, respectively. Salaam was convicted of the notorious 1989 Central Park jogger rape case after he made incriminating statements and his four co-defendants falsely confessed to the crime after prolonged interrogations. Bermudez was wrongly identified as the perpetrator of a 1991 shooting murder.
Cuomo’s proposed measures could help prevent devastating wrongful convictions like those of Salaam and Bermudez.
“We are two examples of how the system failed, but New York can prevent this from happening again by enacting simple and practical changes in police procedure to ensure that false confessions and misidentification don’t result in more wrongful convictions,” the exonerees wrote.
You can help make 2017 the year that New York joins many other states that have chosen to take action in the name of justice.
Today, we invite you to call Speaker Carl Heastie and the New York State Assembly to ensure that the FY18 budget that is passed includes wrongful conviction safeguards to address eyewitness misidentification and false confessions.