In September, the long-awaited Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions released its final report. A comprehensive study of wrongful convictions, the report recommends several legislative measures to update current law enforcement practices in Pennsylvania relating to the main causes of wrongful convictions: eyewitness identification procedures, false confessions, forensic science problems, and use of government informant testimony. The report also recommends actions to help those who were falsely convicted, including a state compensation statute and an oversight board to review known exonerations.
There was pushback to the report from some Committee members, who disagreed with the need for reforms in Pennsylvania at all, calling such measures “roadblocks to justice.” But even the dissenters support some limited measures of reform.
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project has prepared a White Paper on Pennsylvania Conviction Integrity Proposals which presents the Advisory Committee recommendations and the dissenters’ concerns. The paper explains that the suggested reforms do not go far enough toward preventing wrongful convictions. Feel free to use, disseminate, and forward the White Paper widely!
But to even get the discussion started, we need strong senate support. Senator Stewart Greenleaf will introduce the legislation soon, and is seeking co-sponsors. We’re calling on all state senators to co-sponsor this critical legislation to help Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system move forward and adopt modern, proven techniques to prevent wrongful convictions.