3 Reform Bills Addressing Wrongful Convictions Go Before Florida Senate
The Florida Senate Committee on Criminal justice advanced 3 separate bills intended to decrease wrongful convictions in the state.
The first bill, Senate Bill 312, states the investigator leading the suspect lineup must not know who is the suspect. If they are aware of the suspect they must not be allowed to view the lineup subjects. This is done in order to prevent the investigator from luring the victim to the real suspect, resulting in a false identification. Victim’s or eye witnesses will also be informed that the suspect may or may not be in the lineup as to not pressure them to pick someone.
False identifications are the number one cause of wrongful convictions. Of 349 DNA exonerations 71% were the result of eyewitness misidentifications.
The second bill, Senate Bill 296, requires that all felony related interviews be recorded. This protects those being interviewed from forced, false confessions.
The third bill, Senate Bill 494, states those convicted of non-violent felonies are eligible to receive restitution from the state. Currently, if an inmate is found not guilty on a felony charge and has a previous history of a non-violent felony they are not eligible for compensation from the state. For example, Bill Dillon was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years for a murder that he had no part in. Due to a prior non-violent drug felony charge he was not eligible for restitution. Bill 494 would change that.
ArborYpsi Law Take Aways:
The fact that the State of Florida is making legal changes to prevent wrongful convictions is excellent. However, we need to keep working on this important issue to prevent wrongful convictions in the future. With the wrongful conviction rate being so high there is clearly a lot of work to be done as we move forward.
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