RJI Supports New York legislation to create Prosecutorial Commission (July 2, 2018)
RJI supports A-5285-C (Perry), and S-2412 (DeFransico), passed by the New York Legislature and currently on its way to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo. We urge the governor to sign the bill. The reasons for RJI supporting this legislation are explained in our support letter which we share with you. Victims-driven restorative justice applies to wrongful convictions.
We also share this press article from Newsday on the legislation and its passage by the New York Legislature.
Restorative Justice International
Post Office Box 467
Carson City, Nevada U.S. 89702
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 29, 2018
Assembly member Nick Perry
New York State Assembly
Albany, New York 12248
RE: Support letter for A-5285-C
Dear Assembly member Perry:
This letter is to advise you of Restorative Justice International’s (RJI) support for A-5285-C which will establish an independent commission on prosecutorial conduct.
RJI is a national and global association and network committed to victims-driven restorative justice with over 5800 members and affiliates. Victims-driven restorative justice is a vision for systemic reform of the justice system which puts crime victims in the center of the justice system. RJI seeks to reform our justice system in ways that restore victims of crime, as much as possible, hold offenders accountable and restore communities also injured by crime. RJI supports your legislation because no crime victim would ever want an innocent person in prison for a crime he did not commit. We believe your legislation is an important and vital step toward assuring prosecutorial accountability under the rule of law to prevent wrongful convictions.
RJI supports A-5285-C because it creates an eleven-member independent commission of legal professionals to be appointed by the governor, legislature and chief judge, to investigate and, when appropriate, recommend sanctions for prosecutors found to have engaged in misconduct in the performance of their duties. The bill directs that the membership be comprised of an equal number of prosecutors and defense attorneys. It provides subpoena authority and other powers to enable the commission to receive, initiate, investigate, and hear complaints relating to prosecutorial conduct, qualifications, or fitness to perform, and to secure the disposition of these complaints.
RJI supports your legislation because accountability of prosecutors is critical to any justice system to provide for fair treatment of individuals and to assure that when an individual is arrested, convicted and sentenced that the right perpetrator is held responsible and not the wrong person. Victims of violent crime we work with nationally want to know that the justice system is working for them and committed to getting it right whenever crime occurs. Crime victims do not want to be a part of convicting the wrong person since there is no real justice in that action and often the real perpetrator is not found or held accountable. The burden of imprisoning the wrong individual is something the crime victim must carry and its impact is severe and long lasting.
With some 2200 exonerations in the United States since 1989 (National Registry of Exonerations) RJI is alarmed that our justice system is not doing more to assure that innocent people are not going to prison, or death row, for crimes they did not commit. We are committed to seeing that no more victims are created and for those innocent individuals who are still in prison for crimes they did not commit RJI is committed to seeking justice for them.
Thank you for sponsoring this legislation. RJI will be asking Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign this important bill creating a prosecutorial commission and urging him to let it be an example and a model for the rest of the country, as well as internationally, that accountability of prosecutors must be central in any true, responsible justice system. If we can be of assistance in any other way please contact us.
Lisa M. Rea, President
CC: Governor Andrew Cuomo;
RJI Global Advisory Council