Freeing and Compensating the Wrongfully Convicted in New York

April 11, 2012 Updated: April 11, 2012

NEW YORK—Putting innocent persons behind bars leaves an indelible impact. A new Conviction Review Bureau will research potential wrongful convictions, investigate procedures to better find actual criminals, and quickly compensate those who have been found wrongfully convicted, announced Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Wednesday.

“For victims, their families, and any of us who could suffer the nightmare of being wrongly accused, it is imperative that we do everything possible to maximize accuracy, justice, and reliability in our justice system,” stated Schneiderman in a press release.

“As we’ve learned through DNA exonerations, wrongful convictions give you an opportunity to see where the system failed and how it can be made more just,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project. “We hope that district attorneys throughout the state will take advantage of this initiative, because all New Yorkers are hurt when the wrong person is convicted of a crime and the real perpetrator is free to commit more crimes.”

Investigation procedures will be examined by the new bureau to see whether they can be improved. The bureau will also work with district attorneys’ offices to find cases where the innocent have been wrongfully convicted. A subcommittee of the bureau will meet to figure out how to quickly resolve unjust conviction torts filed against the state.

Chief Thomas Schellhammer, an assistant attorney general and former homicide prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney Office, and Director Blake Zeff, senior adviser to the attorney general, will lead the new bureau.

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