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Wrongfully convicted New Yorkers call on Cuomo to sign bill to hold prosecutors accountable

Posted at 12:19 PM, Aug 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-13 17:48:08-04

MANHATTAN — Wrongfully convicted New Yorkers stood side-by-side with officials Monday demanding Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign a bill that would make prosecutors accountable for misconduct and for withholding evidence.

New York Assemblyman Nick Perry along with nonprofits The Legal Aid Society, Innocence Project and The Bronx Defenders, and wrongfully convicted New Yorkers who were incarcerated 278 years collectively were among those calling on Cuomo to pass the bill Monday.

The governor has one week, until Aug. 20, to sign it.

Legislation was brought to Cuomo on Aug. 8 after passing both houses of the Legislature with bipartisan support. In June, the New York State Assembly gave final passage to the bill in an 86 to 35 vote.

The bill aims to make prosecutors accountable for misconduct and for withholding evidence, and if signed into law Andrew Cuomo, would create a prosecutorial oversight commission.

For six years Perry and State Sen. John DeFrancisco of Syracuse worked tirelessly on the bill, both saying they were motivated by the large number of men and women exonerated of their crimes in recent years, the majority of whom lost years of their lives due in large part to prosecutorial misconduct.

Perry said their stories were bothersome to him for years.

Jeff Deskovic, wrongfully convicted in 1990 when he was only 17 years old, sat among others who were once wrongfully convicted in Albany while the decision was made back in June.

“It was an emotional moment," Deskovic, who spent 16 years behind bars, said. "We were all elated. We were all clapping. We held hands. The waterworks started for some of us.