If our society is to be measured by the way we treat the least among us, then surely we must all care about innocent people who are wrongfully imprisoned.
Robert Jones has spent 19 years in prison for a murder in Queens, New York that he had nothing to do with. Mr. Jones’ daughter was 6 months old at the time of his arrest. His parents both died during his imprisonment.
No motive or forensic evidence has ever connected Mr. Jones to the crime, and he has passed a polygraph test. The only witnesses who ever identified Mr. Jones have recanted, explaining that the police and prosecutor pressured them into saying they saw him when they did not.
An independent prosecutor should investigate these allegations. However, in Queens, prosecutors from the same office investigate claims against each other. As a result, the District Attorney’s Office has reprimanded only one of its own despite over 130 instances of misconduct identified by appellate courts. Indeed, in several cases prosecutors have either suppressed or waited years to reveal information that proved a prisoner’s innocence. Such abuses will continue until we demand accountability. District Attorneys around the country, including in Brooklyn and Manhattan, have established independent units to investigate claims of innocence and misconduct. We must call on Queens to do the same.
Our criminal justice system represents all of us, and none of us wants to see an innocent person imprisoned. Prosecutors are supposed to seek justice in our name, and most of them do so with honor. But even when they prosecute innocents, they are still acting in our name. For this reason, we all have a duty to speak up for a fairer system.
Please call upon New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown to appoint an independent agency to investigate serious claims of innocence and misconduct.
We call upon Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York and Richard A. Brown, District Attorney of Queens County to appoint an independent investigator or create an independent unit to investigate allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
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