There is some good news for the New Yorkers out there who have been wrongfully convicted, as well as their loved ones.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has stated that he will be proposing legislation in order to help those wrongfully convicted of a crime get their charges overturned and even present damage claims against the state. His bill, the “Unjust Imprisonment Act” would make drastic changes to the existing New York State Court of Claims Act, most notable Section 8-b.
The changes would go a long way removing some of the overly-complex Section 8-b regulations, which currently act as a significant roadblock in recovering damages from the State of New York.
The current law, which was put in place in 1984 and most recently updated in 2007, stops certain individuals from pursuing damages against the state. Attorney General Schneiderman’s plan, though, is to remove those roadblocks and make it so that even individuals who have plead guilty can be exonerated if they are able to prove their innocence.
Given the recent news reports that have been surfacing about overly-aggressive techniques used by some police departments in getting confessions, this new bill should come as welcome news to all who have been imprisoned wrongfully.
While some people are not enthusiastic about this news, supporters of Attorney General Schneiderman’s bill are quick to say that our justice system is meant to be fair, that people are innocent until proven guilty, and that everyone must be given a fair chance to tell their story. If they are currently in jail and can prove their innocence and become exonerated, they should be given every opportunity to try to rebuild the lives that were unjustly taken from them.
There have been over 25 cases in New York alone where convictions were reversed due to DNA testing. It is expected that as it becomes easier for the wrongfully convicted to prove their innocence, that number will continue to rise.
This legislation is just one step in the right direction; however, more must be done to prevent wrongful convictions from occurring the first place.