CONVICTION INTEGRITY & TRANSPARENCY UNIT

In the US, at the time of writing this, there have been 2,578 exonerations of innocent people who spent a total of 23,156 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit.  In NY, 289 people have been exonerated after serving a total of 2,864 years behind bars.

The causes of wrongful convictions are misidentification, mishandling of evidence, use of false confessions by law enforcement and failing to turn over favorable evidence to the defense by prosecutors. 

To address this wave of injustice, the New York State Bar Association formed a Task Force on Wrongful Convictions.  In 2019, it recommended that every DA’s Office in NY establish a Conviction Integrity Unit.  Albany does not have one. And now the stats speak for themselves…

The NYS Legislature passed with full bipartisan support a bill to establish a Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct in 2019 to address instances of prosecutorial misconduct that have led to wrongful convictions.  This commission would operate much like the Commission on Judicial Conduct that oversees judges. 

David Soares sued to block this commission

CONVICTION INTEGRITY & TRANSPARENCY UNIT

Purpose: Shift office culture to value transparency and truth in the criminal justice process over winning and convictions. The unit will function in three ways:

  1. Proactively review cases for actual innocence or gross violations of constitutional rights;
  2. Set and supervise guidelines for the office as a whole regarding prosecutorial conduct focused on identifying and disclosing favorable evidence to defendants; and
  3. Establish and maintain a database of police misconduct. 

This unit will be led by a veteran criminal defense attorney and will report directly to the District Attorney.  The CITU will work with the local defense bar to identify any past cases of innocence and partner with Albany Law School to establish an Innocence Clinic.  The unit will operate with complete transparency by reporting its findings and case progress annually to the public. 

Much like corporate compliance departments, the CITU will also establish and enforce internal guidelines and best practices for staff to ensure prosecutors are acting ethically and fairly.  Guidelines will come in the form of checklists for each case supported by trainings for assistants. CITU staff will audit cases quarterly, and produce a publicly available report annually. Supervising prosecutors will prioritize identifying and disclosing material favorable to defense in each case, and reward assistants for such conduct. 

Finally, a police misconduct database will be established with the help of willing local police, the public defender’s office and defense bar. It will compromise disciplinary records, instances of false testimony, and general misconduct.  It will be publicly available as such databases are in other jurisdiction.

    SIGN-UP FOR CAMPAIGN UPDATES

    COVID-19 Response

    We are pitching in where we can to help during the COVID-19 pandemic and are asking our supporters and volunteers to donate the supplies needed to make hand sanitizer:

    1. 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
    2. Aloe Vera Gel
    3. 100% Glycerine

    Please message us right here on Facebook Messenger (BOTTOM RIGHT OF SCREEN).