Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wrongful Conviction Committee Releases Report After 4 Years

Consensus Not Reached:  Dueling Reports Provided to the Legislature

A four-year commission studying wrongful convictions in Pennsylvania has finally released its report and not everyone involved has joined in the commissions recommendations.  The commission has recommended more DNA testing, recorded interrogations and changes in the way police interview witnesses.  However, 14 of the 51 members of the joint state advisory committee defected from the group, and dueling reports were presented to the state Senate Judiciary Committee at a public hearing this week, reported the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
The 14 who left the initial group are members of law enforcement, district attorneys or victim’s rights advocates. They collectively complained that the committee process was flawed and biased and excluded their contributions.

However, there is some middle ground.  Both groups agree that a creation of a forensic advisory board and a change in the state’s wiretap rules could help prosecutors avoid bad convictions, according to the Patriot-News.

Eleven people have been freed from prison as a result of DNA testing in Pennsylvania since the 1980s.
But the two committees disagree on the definition of “innocence.” The members who defected believe a distinction should be made between people who are exonerated based on technicalities — police mistakes or court procedures — and people who did not commit the crime.

According to the Patriot-News, the biggest difference between the two reports — and the biggest philosophical divide between the members — was over whether substantive changes are necessary to Pennsylvania’s judicial system. “We don’t think that police practices should be legislated,” said Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, told the Patriot-News. “There’s always room for improvement in the system, but I don’t think this is the way to do it.”

To read more:

No comments:

Post a Comment