NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The City Council is calling on New York state lawmakers to pass legislation they say will prevent wrongful convictions.
The bill would require police to implement eyewitness identification reform and record suspect interrogations from start to finish. Supporters hope this would eliminate false or coerced confessions and misidentification.
In all, 29 convictions have been overturned in New York state by DNA evidence, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“Fifteen involved eyewitness misidentification. An additional 14 involved false confession,” said Rebecca Brown with the Innocence Project.
Raymond Santana, one of five men wrongly convicted in the vicious 1989 rape and beating of a Central Park jogger, supports the resolution.
“We are the examples of what happens when the system goes wrong. We have paid the price and it’s been a heavy price,” Santana said. “I spent seven years in prison because of a videotape that was done wrongly.”
Santana and four others were teenagers when they were convicted of the crime. They each spent six to 13 years in jail before the convictions were tossed in 2002 after an incarcerated serial rapist and murderer confessed to the attack. The five men reached a $40 million settlement with the city two years ago.
“This bill is very powerful, it can save a lot of lives,” Santana said.
Jeffrey Deskovic spent 16 years in prison after he was wrongly convicted in 1990 of a sexual assault in Westchester County.
“Interrogation was not videotaped, there was no signed confession, it was solely the officer’s word,” he said.
A version of the bill has been around Albany for nearly 10 years, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
The NYPD said it already records entire interrogations voluntarily. The statewide bill would ensure that every department does so.
Nearly half the states in America require the recording of interrogations.