ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Assembly has passed the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act, which looks to give wrongfully-convicted New Yorkers a chance to clear their name. The act improves the current framework that only allows minimal cases to meet standards despite a large number of people pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit.
The current process in New York State only allows people who’ve pleaded guilty to file a claim of actual innocence if DNA evidence emerges. The act will improve the current process in the following ways:
- Removing the guilty plea bar on actual innocence claims when there is credible new, non-DNA evidence of wrongful conviction
- Providing a right to post-conviction discovery
- Establishing a right to counsel for those with wrongful conviction claims. New York is one of just five states in the U.S. that does not provide a right to an attorney in post-conviction cases, trailing states like Texas and Alabama
“When our laws change, we must consider the lingering effects of our old laws and how they may still be harming people,” said Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry. “For too long, our justice system incentivized plea bargains over trials, and we must ensure that individuals who may have been pressured into plea bargains as a result of that system have the same rights to redress. We must update our laws to ensure that anyone wrongfully or improperly convicted of a crime is able to clear their name, once and for all.”