News & Politics

We’re Number Three! New York Almost Best At Locking Up the Innocent!

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Wow. New York state leads just about every state in the country in the number of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing, according to a report released this afternoon by the Innocence Project.

In all, the report found 24 wrongful convictions that were overturned by DNA. Only Texas and Illinois have a worse record.

Since 2000, 18 wrongfully convicted people have been freed with DNA evidence — 8 of the 18 were convicted of murder. In 10 of the 24 cases, the actual perp was found. And in 9 of those 10 cases, the actual perps committed additional crimes while the innocent person was locked up, including 5 murders, 7 rapes, 2 assaults and one armed robbery.

The report says that errors in identification by eyewitnesses played a
role in 13 of the 24 cases. In 10 of the 24, innocent people gave false
confessions. And in 13 of the cases, bad forensic science played a key
role.

“This report outlines how New York’s criminal justice
system has fallen short and how it can be fixed,” said Stephen Saloom,
Policy Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with
Cardozo School of Law. “What we need now is legislative action to adopt
reforms that are proven to make the criminal justice system more fair,
accurate and reliable.”

The authors of the report claim that while many other states have made changes to limit wrongful convictions, New York has not.

“Common-sense
remedies that are proven to decrease the potential for wrongful
convictions have been introduced in the New York Legislature
repeatedly, but they have not passed,” the report says.

The
authors of the report want the state to improve eyewitness ID
procedures, make it easier to get DNA testing, provide adequate payment
to the wrongly convicted, and record all interrogations in felony cases.

For more from the Innocence Project, read the executive summary or the full report. And there’s also the New York State Bar Association’s report on wrongful convictions.