Rhode Island

Eyewitness Identification Reform

The Rhode Island Legislature created a task-force to identify and recommend policies and procedures to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. The task-force issued its final report in December 2010. In 2012, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association crafted a model policy which was adopted by all law enforcement agencies in the state, and embraces: blind administration, proper filler selection, proper instructions to the witness, and confidence statements. Task-force report effective: 2010; Amended most recently: 2011.

Read the RIPCA policy

Read the task-force report

Recording of Interrogations

The Rhode Island Legislature created a task-force to identify and recommend policies and procedures relating to the recordation of interrogations. The task-force issued its final report in 2012, which led all police agencies in the state to adopt recordation of interrogations practices. Effective: 2012.

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Read the task-force report

Post Conviction DNA Testing

During or after a term of incarceration, any prisoner convicted of, or sentenced for, a crime, violation of law, or violation of probationary or deferred sentence status may apply for post-conviction DNA testing through the Superior Court at any time. Effective: 2002; Amended: 2015.

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Evidence Preservation

State statute requires that law enforcement agencies preserve biological evidence collected in any case leading to criminal conviction for the length of an individual’s incarceration. Effective: 2002.

Rhode Island's statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.

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Exoneree Compensation

A person whose conviction was reversed or vacated for reasons other than ineffective assistance of counsel, or a person who has received a pardon, is eligible to file for compensation at a rate of $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration. At the discretion of the court, a person may also be awarded release from child support payments owed to the state, as well as access to any services provided by the state for people released from prison into the community. The presiding justice of the superior court determines a petitioner’s eligibility for compensation. Any person claiming compensation based on a pardon or a vacated or reversed conviction that occurred before June 30, 2021, must file the claim no later than three years after June 30, 2021. People filing claims after June 30,2021 must file no later than three years after the date that they were pardoned or that their conviction was vacated or reversed. Effective: July 2021.

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