Critics Say NY Lags On Preventing Wrongful Convictions


Although more convicts have been exonerated by DNA evidence in New York than in most other states, New York is one of only a few states that have not enacted comprehensive legislative reforms to prevent wrongful convictions, says an Innocence Project report quoted by the New York Times. The report sheds a harsh light on what it calls the state's lackluster record of instituting rules intended to prevent wrongful convictions. Although false confessions are the leading cause of wrongful convictions in New York, the state does not require law enforcement agencies to record interrogations, a requirement in nine other states.

Law enforcement agencies in only two counties, Broome and Schenectady, videotape at least portions of custodial interrogations as part of a pilot program run by the New York State Bar Association. Some 500 U.S. law enforcement agencies require full or partial recording of interrogations, the report says. Twenty-two states have laws requiring the preservation of crime-scene evidence like semen and saliva samples, which are frequently used for DNA analysis. But in New York, there is no such law, and forensic evidence is often lost, destroyed or misplaced, delaying or defeating attempts by those who were wrongfully convicted to prove their innocence, the report said. Six states have established independent bodies – commonly known as innocence commissions – to review wrongful convictions, identify what caused them, and propose procedural and legislative changes to keep such errors from happening again.


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