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Op-Ed: Tucson Police Chief Advocates for Proactive, Not Reactive, Policing

Posted: Mar 04, 2015 04:05 PM

In a recent opinion piece published by the Arizona Daily Star, Chief of the Tucson Police, Robert Villaseñor, writes that his police force has implemented progressive, eyewitness identifications practices that will better prevent the misidentification of people during criminal investigation lineups.

Villaseñor—who is a member of the 21st Century Policing Commission recently created by President Obama and on the board of the Police Executive Research Forum— writes that his department has adopted “blind” administration of live and photo lineups—as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences October 2014 report,  , and the Innocence Project.  Blind administration requires that “the officer conducting the lineup or photo array is either unaware of the suspect or cannot see which photo the eyewitness is viewing by virtue of some form of technology,” according to Villaseñor. The police chief also says that interrogations will be recorded.

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Former Police Commissioner Says System Too Faulty for Death Penalty

Posted: Mar 03, 2015 06:05 PM

Citing recent death row exonerations and what he called the “enormous pressure” on law enforcement to quickly solve criminal cases, former Pennsylvania Police Commissioner Terence Inch expressed his opposition to the death penalty in an op-ed in the Patriot News on Tuesday.

“Mistakes happen too often, as evidenced by the fact that 150 men and women in the United States have been convicted and sent to death row - only to be released when conclusive evidence of their wrongful conviction emerged,” Inch wrote. “These cases involved all sorts of error, everything from mistaken eyewitnesses and junk science to false confessions. Six of those cases are from Pennsylvania.”

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Honolulu Police Department Adopts Sequential and Double-Blind Lineup Protocol

Posted: Mar 03, 2015 04:44 PM

In an effort to prevent wrongful convictions, the Honolulu Police Department is changing its photo lineup procedure, to now require that photos be shown sequentially, as opposed to six at a time as they have been presented traditionally. 

Former federal agent and retired police officer Tommy Aiu told Hawaii News Now that with “six-pack” lineups, the witness uses relative judgment, comparing each photo to the others in the group and to their memory of the perpetrator. With sequential lineups, the witness uses absolute judgment, comparing each photo only to their memory of the perpetrator.

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Santa Clara County Jail May Have Planted Jail Informants, Violating Civil Rights

Posted: Mar 02, 2015 05:04 PM

A retired lieutenant for the Santa Clara County Jail classifications unit says that from the late 1980s through the 1990s, he and other jail officials routinely used jail informants to solicit information from suspects. If the former lieutenant’s claims are true, it could mean that the county jail violated the civil rights of countless criminal suspects.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Frank Dixon said in a sworn declaration for the appellate case of Surinder Bains—convicted of killing his brother-in-law in 1990—that it was commonplace for the county jail to intentionally place jailhouse informants in holding cells with defendants to “tease out” information at the request of prosecutors and law enforcement officials. Bains claims that Raymond Delgado, the informant who testified against him, was purposely placed in his jail cell to question him at the request of the prosecution. 

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Rolling Stone Magazine: In-Depth Look at Anthony Wright’s Wrongful Conviction Case

Posted: Mar 02, 2015 04:48 PM

The latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine has a feature article on Innocence Project client Anthony Wright, who remains locked up although his convictions for rape and murder were overturned in September by a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge after new DNA testing revealed that another man committed the crimes. Entitled, “Why is This Man Still in Jail?” the article by Paul Solotaroff recounts how egregious force and corruption by local law enforcement led to Wright falsely confessing to the 1991 rape and murder of Louise Talley, 77-year-old woman from North Philadelphia, and how improper defense failed to protect him in court. The article details Wright’s ongoing struggle—bolstered by his post-conviction defense team at the Innocence Project—to win his freedom over the past nearly 24 years and asks why Wright languishes behind bars although he’s been lawfully cleared of any wrongdoing.  

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