News 06.02.10

NY Lawyers Aim to Combat Wrongful Convictions

This afternoon, New York state lawmakers introduced legislation to combat the growing number of wrongful convictions throughout New York.  Post-conviction DNA testing, eyewitness misidentification, compensation, and other issues surrounding wrong convictions are addressed in the new package of proposals, which is based on the recommendations of a task force convened by the New York State Bar Association.

Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck urged the legislature to enact the proposals quickly “so that the necessary reforms of the system can begin in earnest.”

“The Innocence Project greatly appreciates the leadership and vision of the New York State Bar Association and members of the legislature in introducing this important package of proposals to help put an end to wrongful convictions in New York and improve the reliability of our criminal justice system,” Scheck said. The bills were created in response to the recommendations of the state bar’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions after they examined 53 wrongful conviction cases that led to exonerations. The task force concluded that several factors including eyewitness identification procedures, government practices, mishandling of forensic evidence, false confessions and jailhouse informants, contribute to wrongful convictions.

In a report titled, “Lessons not Learned,” released in 2007, the Innocence Project found that New York  has seen more wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing than almost any other state, but lags behind most jurisdictions in enacting policy reforms to make the criminal justice system more fair and effective. 

At a press conference today in Albany, exoneree Steven Barnes joined past New York State Bar Association presidents and Senate and Assembly members to present six new bills aimed at protecting New Yorkers from wrongful convictions.

If signed into the law, the new legislation would put in place a series of safeguards that will help prevent future wrongful convictions.

Read more about the wrongful conviction bills

here

.

Read the “Lessons not Learned”  report

here

.  (PDF)

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