Campaign

Central Park 5 Members Launch #EndNYWrongfulConviction Campaign in Sarah Burns Produced Video

By Innocence Staff

Campaign urges New York State to pass law requiring recording of interrogations, eyewitness identification reform to protect against misidentification, false confession

 

Members of the Central Park Five, who as teenagers were wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape due to false confession, have launched the #EndNYWrongfulConviction with the Innocence Project in an effort to move long-stalled state legislation that would prevent the top contributors to wrongful conviction in New York State: false confession and misidentification. In a series of short videos produced by award-winning filmmaker Sarah Burns, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana, of the Central Park 5, call for the passage of a bill that would require police to record interrogations and implement eyewitness identification reform.

Salaam, Richardson and Santana cite their cases as proof of the need for these reforms; they were all subject to interrogations by NYPD detectives, lasting between 14 and 30 hours, and were threatened and pressured to confess to specific details of the crimes that were fed to them by police.  Only after this abusive and debilitating interrogation process did the authorities video-record the false confessions that the then-teens would ultimately provide. These false confessions, which provided inconsistent versions of the events that night, resulted in the Central Park Five being wrongfully convicted and serving between 7 and 13 years in prison, while the real rapist, Matias Reyes, remained free to commit at least four additional sexual assaults and a murder.

“We spent precious years of our lives in prison. The public never got a chance to see how these false confessions started, they only saw the ending,” said Yusef Salaam, in the #EndNYWrongfulConviction video. “The time to act is now.”

“We want you to see the whole process – from beginning to end,” said Raymond Santana, in the #EndNYWrongfulConviction video. “If this bill would have been passed in ’89, I wouldn’t have lost seven years of my life.”

“I was deprived of my rights and interrogated behind closed doors,” said Kevin Richardson, in the #EndNYWrongfulConviction video.

“We urge Albany, after 10 long years, to finally pass this bill.”

#EndNYWrongfulConviction calls on the New York State legislature to pass a bill that will require police to electronically record the entirety of suspect interrogations and conduct photo lineups blindly, meaning that the police officer conducting the lineup is unaware of the suspect’s identity or cannot see which photo the eyewitness is viewing. Electronically recording interrogations provides an objective record and deters leading or abusive behavior by police, while also protecting against unjustified claims of coercion. The blind administration of photo lineups prevents an officer from providing any intentional or unintentional cues which could influence a selection. Both best practices are evidence-based deterrents to misidentification and false confession.

Despite the fact that New York has third highest number of wrongful convictions proven by DNA evidence in the nation (at 29), and that either false confession and misidentification played a role in all but one of these cases, this legislation has not passed, even though it has been introduced numerous times for nearly a decade. Last year, the Senate for the first time approved a version of this proposal, but it failed to pass the full legislature in the waning days of session. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo included these reforms in his 2016 legislative agenda.

TAKE ACTION NOW

As Yusef said, the time to act is now – New York cannot afford to continue to be an outlier by not passing this important bill. Nearly half of the states in the nation require the recording of interrogations and 15 states now employ the blind administration of lineups. New York should follow suit and finally #EndNYWrongfulConviction.

#EndNYWrongfulConviction

“The Central Park Five – and, for that matter, nearly all of the DNA exonerees in New York – are living proof of the urgent need for police to be recording interrogations and using scientifically supported eyewitness identification practices. I hope that this is the year that Albany passes substantive reform aimed at preventing any future wrongful convictions,” said Sarah Burns, the award-winning filmmaker who produced the #EndNYWrongfulConviction videos and also co-created The Central Park Five documentary.

“No other New Yorker should ever have to endure the horror of wrongful conviction, as experienced by the Central Park Five and all of New York’s exonerees. These best practices are proven deterrents to the two most common contributors to wrongful conviction in New York State: false confession and misidentification. If implemented, they will protect against any future miscarriage of justice and ensure that the real perpetrator is brought to justice. New York can wait no longer for the passage of these reforms; we must #EndNYWrongfulConviction once and for all,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Founder of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.

You can help by emailing your local elects, here. 

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12 Comments

  1. Rod

    Even recorded interrogations can be faulty. I was accused of a crime, a felony, that I did not do. Without a lawyer, I spoke with a detective and explained what had really happened when I was accused of 2nd degree assault. After several months I was speaking with my Atty who wanted me to plea down, but I refused. She then stated that I had already admitted guilt talking with the detective initially. I said “what???. I did not!!” The person who had dictated my conversation with the detective had erroneously miss dictated my conversation!! I got the charges dismissed with prejudice.

  2. Suzanne Brown

    We need your help to help others who have been wrongfully convicted. On June 11 2016 we are staging WE BELIEVE IN INNOCENCE protests across the nation. Currently we have 6 cities in the US and 1 in the Uk participating. We would be honored if you could join one of our protests. NYC will be in Battery Park.
    We all have a duty to protect our fellow men and women from this terrible injustice. We also need to bring all Law Enforcement involved to pay the price of their part in robbing these men and women of their lives.

  3. LATOCHA TODD

    My cousin was wrongfully accused and sentenced to 2 life sentences plus 70 years in Independence, Missouri. He has expressed his innocence for many years. He sits in prison while the young woman is alive and well living in Texas. Please help us bring justice. He has currently served about 16 years of this sentence.

  4. Shawn

    This is one of my all-time nightmare cases, but also on a par with the other cases of this name-pattern [name of any usually large city+ number of defenders proven innocent by The Innocence Project]
    See Dixmoor Five, West Memphis Three, et.al.
    I feel empathy toward those wrongfully convicted.
    I use smile.amazon.com to order whenever I buy online at Amazon, and I have set The Innocence Project as the beneficiary of whatever small percentage of sales Amazon donates to charity based on their sales.
    Maybe I could help more. I get denied from a lot of charitable activities who run background Che’s, as I have done 5 1/2 years in prison in my thirties (I’m in my 50s, no recidivism for me! I was not innocent. I was addicted to drugs, and I stole narcotics from a pharmacy in 1991, and fortunately no one was injured.
    I’ve often thought how much more unpleasant my time could have been, had I been innocent.
    I met at least one guy in 5 years who I believe was innocent. He had a pretty good attitude, citing past criminal behavior he had committed (drugs). Eventually, after 5 years of appeals, they offered a deal that was too tempting for him to resist: plead guilty to something, & never sue them, and he’d be out by Monday morning. It’s tough being an ex-con! My innocent wife and I are denied housing after we fill out an app & they see my record. But I suggested my friend take that deal! The idea of being OUT the following week was so strong, I could never have resisted. He couldn’t resist either, and I’ve never seen him since, & good for him.
    Best luck to you recently exonerated man! Take it a day at a time. It’s hard to resist all the drugs and alcohol that are everywhere. (Remember almost everybody you met in prison was drunk or high when they got arrested.

  5. anthony etter

    i need your help also to get my innocent son out of prison

  6. Sheron Perkins

    I’ll be happy when I see reports of people being released for being convicted of a crime that they didn’t do right now my son is serving 23 to life for a crime I know he didn’t do have tried so much so many ways to bring my son home right now I am sick they tell me that I am considered terminal and I want to see my son home before I die

  7. #EndNYWrongfulConvictions

    I am a supporter of the Innocence Project. People are being incarcerated every day in the wrong. The police are not doing the job properly and don’t have the proper training necessary. A more professional approach to police work is necessary. Professionals need to be unbiased and to be trained to be unbiased. People’s individual perspectives are based on an individual’s experiences. Therefore, no two people see the world the same way.

  8. I need help to get my innocence son out of prison he has life sentence without parole and the one that did it didn’t get that sentence or time the police told me my son was innocence but if he don’t want to turn him up they was going to make an example out of him and they did and also told me he was not there and did not do it and his name investigation Williams who told me that and the witness said my son wasn’t there and the victim told the police he wasn’t there also before he die he told who shot him too many time and then he turn state on my son and he will not take noone life like that they just wanted to get him off the street because of his troubles he kept get in and they took the word of a guy who was in jail with my son said he told him he did it also was going to jail for a long time himself and he was coehed of what to say they took him out his ceil that night and was told about the case and also the lawyer wouldn’t let my son Marquis Lowe get on the bench to testify on what they was saying about him but my son is innocence and deserve to be back out here attend to his kids and family instead of in jail for theses liar who wanted him off the street he been wrongful accused of this victims death and can u please help my son cry for help and also mines and name is Elizabeth Harris and please call me at 4783366339 if u need more information about this case and they move him down there with lifer now and he deserve to be home with his family please help us ASAP please we need him out his children are growing up without him everyday no father and he is a great loving father with his kids and his family

  9. Donna. J. Herring

    Hi my name is Donna J. Herring, I am a community advocate for people and minister. I am seeking help from your company for my son being innocent and incarcarated for an driving offense another person did .I would like for some one to email me at [email protected]. will response to who contact me to tell you more about it. Thank you. I do agree with your missions and support what innocent missions doing in community for innocence incarcarated to free them from false accuse to lock up. God Bless work and mission.

  10. I am wondering if the innocent project is also willing to help people who are being drugged, intoxicated, sexually abused (remotely), their family has been disintegrated for unknown reason, they spent their time almost in an open-air prison while they have never committed any crime and they have systematically been confined in such a way that they could not work. Can any person without any crime be placed in a long-term abusive investigation process without any transparent conviction? If so how can a person be helped to resolve issues like that? Also, I am wondering if the project has the mandate to check genetically poisoned foods items which I thought is a big crime. If you answer my questions it will be the same as you are sending me a one million dollar check

  11. Moreover, I understand through time that there are some groups or individuals who deliberately commercialize for everything I do and speak to take advantage out of it and to spread confusions among the society about us although I have never ever intentionally act, do or participate in a thing that could give an intentional message to anyone or groups. The only message anyone could get from my acts, talks and letters is that “I and my family are the victims of world class crimes so we need help to be free of the invisible daily crimes.” Nothing less nothing more. Any interpretation out of that should not be considered my problem but commercials. Meanwhile, someone is deliberately playing games with my life simply he wants to take advantage of it or, as I have written it in my first letter, he wants to make sure that we should stay in the misunderstood circle so that he could get time to finish what he intends to finish (part of the captivity scenario). My game is nothing but the story that I am requesting to get help and be a person, not “Pets or 21st-century experimental slaves”. Trying to help for such issue is not only about a legal issue but also about ethics and moral issues.”

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