Justice for All

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Note: US Innocence Projects should be involved in the creation of these units to insure they are setup accurately and effectively

 

With an average of 3 exonerations per week we are now seeing this isn't just a fluke.Lives are being taken by a broken system. Every single American is just as vulnerable as the next: Rich, poor, black, brown or white -  every single one of us is a suspect and once named a suspect we are indeed guilty until proven innocent. Our trial, conviction and even execution may be speedy under our sixth amendment right but "innocent until proven guilty" is a mantra long ago lost. 

Since 1989 there have been 2,472 exonerations in the United States: Well over 2,000 human beings have lost their lives, having spent time in prison (often decades) for crimes they did not commit! These are the cases we know to be true while many many more individuals continue to fight for their innocence! 

Several cities in the United Stated have taken initiative to create "Conviction Integrity Units" but it's not enough and not all work primarily due to reporting structure!* We need every city with a prosecutor’s office in every single state to implement these units. 

We have a serious problem in our country and we need to make every effort to put an end to it. We can begin with the creation of Conviction Integrity Units (CIU's)

As citizens, constituents and lawmakers it is our responsibility to prevent, identify and expose wrongful convictions. We can begin by building these units which:

1. Run independent of the Prosecutors office (they may run from the office of the prosecutor but staff should not be an actual staff member reporting up to the prosecutor)

2. Take every single claim of innocence seriously 

3. Understand that prosecutorial misconduct is not rare and their findings may indeed expose serious corruption which will be addressed swiftly and without repercussion

4. Have absolutely no input from the District Attorney on which cases will or will not be reviewed, (all cases reviewed completely confidentially)

5. Led by an attorney with firsthand prosecutorial and criminal defense experience*

6. Review all petitions on their factual merits, and not on non-substantive grounds meaning the office should even review cases where a petitioner pled guilty*

Prosecutorial misconduct, police corruption,  witness misidentification and both physical and legal threats to alibi witnesses are common in our system and lack regard for human life of the innocent. 

We can no longer sweep this epidemic under the rug. Innocent lives are being taken by a system that should be meant to protect us. We need to "police the police" as they are doing in New York City and we need to supervise prosecutors to insure they seek justice over conviction rates. We need justice not only for those who were thrown into an unknown and cruel system but also seek justice for victims and their families. Imagine going to court every single day for a week hearing grueling "evidence" against a person while looking at them and their family as scum, feeling justice was served as they were hauled off in handcuffs only to find 20+ years later another mother / father  lost her child to the system while the actual perpetrator walked free. 

Overturning wrongful convictions isn't enough, those lives were already stolen but it's at least a start and it can begin with you. 

 1. As of 2017 data  there have been 269 exonerations obtained by in place Conviction Integrity Units between 2003 and 2017. More than 80% of those exonerations have happened since 2017. 

2. There are 2300 prosecutors’ offices in the United States yet 98.5 percent do not have CIU's.

3. 60% of all wrongful convictions have shown to be due to prosecutorial misconduct 

4. The most common misconduct documented in the cases in the Registry involves police or prosecutors (or both) concealing exculpatory evidence.

~"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  ~ Dr. Martin Luther  King 

 

* Information gathered from the Quattrone Center, a policy hub at the University of Pennsylvania focused on preventing errors in the criminal justice system