News 06.20.12

The Fight for Pennsylvania’s Wrongfully Convicted

In an op-ed in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Legal Director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Marissa Boyers Bluestine, questions how many Pennsylvanians remain in prison for crimes they didn’t commit and what forms of evidence will be available to help prove their innocence.

These questions can’t be answered because so few people who are wrongly convicted get a chance to prove their innocence in court. Access to justice after conviction is limited, especially in Pennsylvania.

Even if an inmate has the resources for a post-conviction investigation, his chances in Pennsylvania are slight. State law sets extremely strict deadlines for inmates to file petitions asserting their innocence after conviction. And in Pennsylvania, unlike any other state in the nation or the federal system, an inmate who misses a deadline even by a single day can’t have his claim heard.

Other courts treat deadlines for such claims more flexibly and equitably, stretching them when there is convincing evidence of innocence, for example.Our criminal justice system must act with a degree of finality to maintain the confidence of the public, particularly crime victims. But while it should always be difficult to overturn a conviction, it should not be impossible. We have to start acknowledging the innocents in prison and ensuring that viable and credible claims get their day in court.

Read the full

op-ed

.

Read more about limitations to

post-conviction DNA access in Pennsylvania

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  1. Ginny Holliday says:

    I personally feel if any person has been wrongfully convicted of any crime and has had to serve any amount of time, they should be compensated by the state. Since the attorneys, prosecutors and judges are performing jobs that are employed representing state, if they have performed their job incorrectly it should not be the innocent that has to pay the price for their failure to carry out their jobs that were performed in any incorrect manner. Besides, if the idea is to bring justice about within the whole system, it is only fair that the guilty serve their time but if the innocent serve time and were wrongfully convicted my personal opinion is that the idea is to have an accurate judicial system because people’s lives are being taken away from them that are innocent. The state should be held accountable for those actions of the individuals that have taken innocent peoples lives and ruined them – therefore compensation should be awarded to the innocent. In the state of Pennsylvania, they feel they can do anything they want because they never have to be concerned about paying the price for wrongful convictions. It would make people more aware of doing a more thorough and competent job which they are getting paid for in the first place.

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