Senator Stewart Greenleaf has introduced bills in the Pennsylvania Senate that would put in action the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions. The first bill, SB 1337, would create a Committee on Conviction Integrity, which would examine any proven exoneration case to determine what factors led to the wrongful conviction of an innocent person. Further, it would review whether or not changes to the Pennsylvania criminal justice system could prevent future injustices.
The second bill, SB 1338 calls for necessary improvements to methods used by law enforcement, including
- Requiring all law enforcement agencies to abide by known best practices when conducting photo arrays and physical lineups.
- Mandating that suspect interrogations be recorded from the point at which Miranda warnings are first given.
- Requiring that all public forensic labs be accredited and that their technicians pass competency exams.
- Compensating those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes in the amount of $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration.
- Mandating that law-enforcement agencies preserve biological evidence collected for crimes of criminal homicide, sexual assault, arson, kidnapping, robbery and burglary for the length of time for which the convicted person is incarcerated.
- Creation of a Forensic Advisory Board to oversee forensic science labs and investigate alleged errors or incompetence.
- Revisions to Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act, which would 1) extend the length of time during which an inmate may bring a claim of innocence based upon new evidence, and 2) overhaul the Post-Conviction DNA Testing law to allow inmates who either “confessed” or pled guilty to a crime to have access to testing; allow for a comparison to CODIS and the Pennsylvania DNA database when an unknown profile is discovered; to permit judges to discharge an inmate without further proceedings; and other important revisions.
- Requiring that the Commonwealth disclose all prior dealings with informants and, in capital cases, holding pre-trial reliability hearings.
You can support this legislation by
- contacting your Legislator and asking them to support the bills; to find your legislator click here ;
- writing letters to the editor of your local paper explaining why these measures are necessary and calling on others to support the bills
- get our comprehensive White Paper on Conviction Integrity Proposals in Pennsylvania here.
- hosting a teach-in or forum at a community organization and invite lawmakers and Project staff to participate;
- joining the Pennsylvania Innocence Project Policy Committee by sending us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working together, we can bring comprehensive change and reform to Pennsylvania. For more information or questions, please call Marissa at the Project office.