Thursday, March 13, 2008

Innocence in Kentucky

Today on the Innocence Blog Rebecca Brown reports from Kentucky on her work to reform the state's eyewitness identification procedures through bill HB 298. This bill would introduce eyewitness procedures that are proven through scientific studies to be effective. Here are some highlights from her report:
It is our hope that legislators will heed the lessons of wrongful conviction, and place robust science and experiential support above resistance to change. After all, traditional lineup methods are not the product of either scientific lessons or systemic validation. The unreliability of conventional eyewitness identification procedures undermines the effectiveness of public safety nationwide – and as importantly, the public faith therein. It bears repeating that eyewitness misidentification has contributed to more than three-quarters of the nation’s wrongful convictions proven through DNA testing.

The problem is well established, as are the solutions. I am testifying in Kentucky to help their legislature understand what the Innocence Project has learned – through deep study, and more importantly, through the reality of DNA exonerations – about the value of reforming their eyewitness identification procedures.

William Gregory, a Kentucky man whose innocence was proven through DNA testing, knows firsthand about the tragic implications of flawed eyewitness identification procedures; he spent seven years in prison for a crime he did not commit after two crime victims misidentified him.
Passage of HB 298 will not only protect the public and enhance Kentuckians’ confidence in their criminal justice system – it will also prove to Mr. Gregory that his suffering was not in vain. (Emphasis Added)

I encourage you to read the full report, and if you live in Kentucky, please contact your representative in support of this bill.

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