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NY lawmakers reinvigorate push to upend wrongful convictions

NY lawmakers reinvigorate push to upend wrongful convictions

New York state lawmakers mounted a renewed push on Tuesday for laws that will deepen the nicely of sources for folks difficult wrongful convictions, after the invoice stalled within the Legislature final yr.

The invoice, sponsored by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, goals to eradicate present obstacles for folks wrongfully convicted of crimes who’re looking for to make the case for exoneration. State legislation solely permits folks to be exonerated by means of new DNA proof if they’ve already entered responsible pleas — a tough bar to attain for folks looking for to show their innocence.

Talking from the state Capitol constructing on Tuesday, Myrie’s remarks have been frequently interrupted by individuals who stated that they had been wrongfully convicted of crimes, as they tried to share their experiences with the general public. The results of a wrongful conviction, Myrie stated — pointing to shouts from the gang — are all too actual.

“How many days are appropriate for you to be in that cell?” Myrie asked. “Six months? Five months? Ten years? Thirty-eight years? A day?”

“A day in prison for a crime you did not commit is a day too long,” he stated. “And for too many New Yorkers, as we see today — this is not a hypothetical. This isn’t just a press conference. This is life.”

An earlier model of the invoice handed the Meeting final June. It failed to acquire traction within the Senate and didn’t make it to the chamber ground earlier than the earlier legislative session ended.

The invoice would additionally create a post-conviction proper to counsel and a proper to the authorized discovery course of after conviction. Aubry, the invoice’s Meeting sponsor, likened wrongful conviction to “a stain similar to slavery.”

The overwhelming majority of legal convictions nationwide are constructed on responsible pleas. Students estimate that 90% to 95% of legal instances in federal and state court docket are resolved by way of a plea deal, in accordance to findings from the Division of Justice. One in 4 folks nationally who’re later exonerated had initially pleaded responsible.

“I was bullied into pleading guilty to something that I didn’t do and that conviction has had a negative impact on my life,” Eileen Maher, a community leader at VOCAL-NY, said in a statement. “It’s not right that now I have no recourse to vacate the conviction even if I can now prove that I didn’t do what I was accused of.”

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