It seems as if there have been a whole slew of wrongful conviction cases being reported in the news these days, and New York seems to have more than its fair share.
DNA evidence alone has exonerated individuals in 24 cases in New York State, and that is merely one of the recent technological advances in forensics. While the number ‘24’ might sound small to some people, it is important to remember that those are 24 people who were arrested, thrown in jail, convicted in court, and forced to serve years in prison, all while being innocent. Collectively, the 24 individuals jailed spent 280 years being wrongfully imprisoned. Out of all 50 states, only Illinois and Texas have had more wrongful conviction cases.
Eight of the individuals had been arrested for murder, 7 of them potentially eligible for the death penalty. These post-conviction exonerations due to DNA are highlighting a very serious problem in the New York State criminal justice system. In the past several years, there have been quite a few remedies introduced in the New York Legislature, but each new exoneration that comes to light highlights another learning opportunity.
The lessons can be found hidden in the facts:
- Of the entire United States’ DNA exonerations, more than 10% are in New York alone, and 9 of the 24 rightful perpetrators went on to commit additional crimes that may have been noticed had a wrongful arrest not taken place.
- 13 of the arrests took place due to false eyewitness statements, and incorrect forensic work.
Clearly at the time, there was something strange going on in the New York criminal justice system. Unfortunately, it seems as if New York has not fully learned the lessons yet, as broad sweeping reforms have yet to be implemented. As more and more cases continue to come to light, it will be harder and harder for those in power to avoid taking action.
If you or a loved one have been wrongfully imprisoned, do not hesitate to contact a New York defense attorney today.