reported that the first conviction integrity unit within a U.S. attorney’s office will be launched in Washington, D.C., by federal prosecutors in an effort to identify potential wrongful convictions. The formation of the unit comes in response to a series of exonerations from flawed FBI forensic evidence and testimony.
D.C.’s top prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said he will add resources to his office’s Special Proceedings Division, assign at least two attorneys to investigate cases and be tasked with recommending practices for investigators and prosecutors to help avoid future errors.
Shawn Armbrust, executive director of the
Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project
, which has worked with Machen’s office, called the unit an important practical step that could help defendants seeking exoneration avert years-long litigation through cooperation, and she said she hoped that it would allow for some transparency so that the unit was not just “prosecutors reviewing prosecutors.”
She added: “It is an important cultural step for the office to officially recognize that there are wrongful convictions in the District of Columbia, and there may be enough of them to necessitate the formation of this unit.”