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New NY Bureau To Help Wrongfully Convicted

by Claudia Morell
A A
prison cell
Still Burning, flickr

The Conviction Review Bureau will partner with county DAs to address claims of innocence.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has created a new bureau to address wrongful convictions in New York.

The outside office will work with district attorneys across the state to review possible cases of unjust convictions. It will also conduct an internal review of investigation procedures like recorded confessions to make sure they are reliable and fair.

“There is only one person who wins when the wrong person is convicted of a crime: the real perpetrator, who remains free to commit more crimes,” said A.G Schneiderman in a written statement.

Glen Garber is the founder and director of the Exoneration Initiative, a group that works with prisoners who claim they are innocent. He said the new bureau will be helpful for groups like his when it comes to re-opening cases where there might be doubt surrounding the conviction.

"Prosecutors’ offices that are reviewing their own convictions sometimes tend to have tunnel vision and are reluctant to give the objective view that they should give, so hopefully this program will infuse that objectivity into the analysis,” said Garber.

Stephen Saloom is the Policy Director for the Innocence Project, a group that uses DNA to prove wrongful convictions. He said he is thrilled about the new program.

"Given that New York State has had more wrongful convictions proven by post-conviction DNA testing than just any other state, this is a really important sign of leadership from the top levels" said Saloom.

New York has the fourth largest prison population in the country. It also has the second largest number of exonerations with 88 cases to date.

The new bureau will be led by Chief Thomas Schellhammer, an Assistant Attorney General and former homicide prosecutor in the New York Country District Attorney Office.

 

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