Virginia law makes it incredibly difficult to reverse a wrongful conviction. A state commission is looking at new ways to help people when there is strong evidence that they have been wrongfully convicted of crimes. Under current law, a wrongfully convicted person cannot be released from prison until a Writ of Actual Innocence is secured, a process that can take months or years, even after new evidence proving innocence has been discovered.
Under a new proposal being considered by the Virginia State Crime Commission, wrongly convicted people with convincing new evidence of innocence could be released on bond pending the outcome of the writ proceedings. This would prevent innocent people from continuing to languish in prison when DNA or other evidence clearly proves their innocence.
“Our office certainly would be in support of any procedure that would expedite the innocence process for those who are found to be actually innocent of their crime, either through DNA evidence or other scientific analysis. A lot of that, which is available today that we did not have available to us 10 and 20 years ago,” said Chad Logan, the Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.