The Innocence Project's Policy department works in Congress, state Legislatures and with local elected officials and policy makers to pass legislation and administrative policies that prevent wrongful convictions and make it easier for the innocent to receive justice.
Improving fairness and accuracy in the criminal justice system benefits all segments of society. Victims and their families can see justice; prosecutors and police can have the tools to do their jobs well; the public can have more confidence in the system; and innocent people and their families can avoid the tragedy of wrongful convictions.
The Innocence Project’s priorities for reforming the criminal justice system reflect the lessons that have been learned from DNA exonerations over the last 23 years. These priorities also reflect the need to address fundamental shortcomings in the criminal justice system while implementing specific reforms to law enforcement procedures. All of the reforms that the Innocence Project and its partners advocate have been proven to increase the accuracy of the criminal justice system, often through decades of scientific research.
In April, Governor Steve Bullock signed into law a measure (HB 516) that strengthens Montana’s post-conviction DNA testing statute by creating a more reasonable standard for the wrongfully convicted to access DNA testing, enhancing the use of the state’s DNA database to identify actual perpetrators, and expanding eligibility to individuals who are no longer in prison.
Governor Nathan Deal recently signed into law legislation that requires law enforcement agencies to implement eyewitness identification best practices designed to protect against misidentification. The bipartisan measure, which contains reforms that have been scientifically proven to reduce the chance of misidentification, is the result of the leadership of and collaboration between members of the legislature and criminal justice advocates and stakeholders.
The Innocence Project, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, and other stakeholders joined representatives from New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster’s office on June 1st at a press conference to announce a new model eyewitness identification policy. The best practices in the model policy have been scientifically proven to reduce the likelihood of misidentification, the leading contributing factor to wrongful convictions.
Governor Larry Hogan has signed into law bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Catherine Pugh and Delegate Samuel Rosenberg, which will expand access to DNA testing to those convicted of all violent felonies. With the enactment of this law, Maryland has strengthened its previous post-conviction DNA testing statute, which only provided such testing to defendants who were wrongfully convicted of murder, manslaughter and sexual assault. The amended law now allows a person who might have been wrongfully convicted of other violent felonies, such as robbery or kidnapping, access to DNA testing that could prove innocence.
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