March 4, 2013 Innocence Project
A new report issued on Friday by the Oklahoma Justice Commission made recommendations to improve the criminal justice system and prevent wrongful convictions.
“It’s not an indictment against law enforcement,” Oklahoma Police Chief and commission member Bill Citty said at a press conference. “It’s just that you always want to try to do things better.”
The Oklahoma Innocence Project worked closely with the 33-member Justice Commission on a two-year study of wrongful convictions. According to the Oklahoma Innocence Project, more than a dozen people were exonerated last year in the state for crimes they didn’t commit, several after a decade or more of prison time.
The commission’s suggestions include allowing post-conviction access to DNA testing. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation without a DNA testing law, but a bill authored by State Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) has already been approved by the House and goes to the Senate to await a committee hearing. Other recommendations include videotaping interrogations, police lineup reform, training for all criminal justice professionals and post-release services for the exonerated.
Drew Edmondson, a former Oklahoma attorney general and the commission’s chairman, said that although many of the recommendations could be voluntarily adopted by police departments and courts, the report pushes for legislative reform. Most of all, the report underscored the benefits the recommendations could have for both the public and law enforcement.
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