This year, we celebrated 11 policy reform wins across seven states.
Though COVID-19 caused state legislatures across the country to shut down, the Innocence Project continued pushing for policy reforms to reveal, prevent and rectify wrongful convictions. Various state legislatures called special sessions to respond to the public outcry for justice and, because official misconduct contributes to wrongful conviction, the Innocence Project joined reform efforts across the nation to bring transparency and accountability to policing.
State Policy Changes
Minnesota: Passed a law mandating the use of science-backed eyewitness identification practices in line up procedures.
Maryland: Passed a law to track and regulate the use of jailhouse informants.
Oklahoma: Passed a law to track and regulate the use of jailhouse informants.
Virginia: Amended its “Writ of Actual Innocence” law to reduce barriers to people trying to prove their innocence through non-DNA evidence, improved its post-conviction DNA testing law, and passed a law requiring police to record interrogations.
Virtual Town Hall: Advocating for Maryland's Innocent
Baltimore exonerees Walter Lomax and Demetrius Smith hosted a virtual town hall to talk about compensation and the unique challenges innocent people face behind bars during the COVID-19 crisis. They were joined by representatives from the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, and the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic. Learn how you can be part of the effort to fix Maryland’s compensation law.
Nebraska: Passed a law allowing experts to testify about eyewitness identification in court — it was the last of the 50 states to do so.
New York: Repealed a law that previously permitted police misconduct information to remain secret. Disciplinary matters and alleged misconduct, even if deemed unsustained or unfounded, can now be publicly disclosed. The reform measure was championed by a coalition that included the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project also worked in coalition to successfully defend the main aspects of New York’s discovery law, which was amended in the face of law enforcement pushback.
Connecticut: Passed a law making police disciplinary records public by removing barriers previously used by police in collective bargaining agreements to conceal records. Disciplinary matters and alleged misconduct, even if deemed unsustained or unfounded, can now be publicly disclosed.
“Right now we have constitutional amendments that protect them when they do wrong. Cops are no better than the average citizen, they should be held accountable.”
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