New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda today
applauded the state Senate for passing an historic wrongful conviction bill,
and urged the Assembly to do the same before leaving Albany this week.
“Wrongful convictions take a tremendous toll on our society,” Miranda
said. “Innocent people lose their liberty. Our communities are less safe
because the guilty are left free to commit more crimes.”
“In addition, victims are further traumatized by being forced to relive
their ordeals. Taxpayers pay millions of dollars to compensate the
wrongfully convicted when they are released from prison. In effect, we are
all touched by wrongful convictions,” he added.
The bill, passed by the Senate, stems from a three-way agreement
reached by the State Bar Association, Frank A. Sedita III, Erie County District
Attorney and president of the District Attorneys Association of New York, and
Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project on June 1. Discussions among
the organizations were initiated by former State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee.
The bill (S.5875-A and A.8157) would require the videotaping of
custodial interrogations in some felonies and require blind or double-blind
witness identification procedures.
“These procedures would address two of the root causes of wrongful
conviction—false confessions and misidentification. They have played roles in
many wrongful conviction cases,” Miranda said.
The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Senator Michael F. Nozzolio,
R-Seneca County, chair of the Senate Codes Committee, and Assemblyman Joseph R.
Lentol, D-Brooklyn, chair of the Assembly Codes Committee.
“These reforms will improve public trust and confidence in our criminal
justice system,” Miranda said. “I respectfully ask the Assembly to pass the
bill this week.”
The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest
voluntary bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs