LOWER MANHATTAN — They’re quite probably the best-known people right now to have served time in prison for a crime they did not commit.
Now, the Central Park Five, who also go by the name the Exonerated Five, have joined state legislators to advocate five legal reforms aimed at preventing other people from being wrongfully convicted. The legislative package also seeks to ensure that people who have been wrongfully incarcerated receive a standard level of compensation.
“The system is still broken,” said Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, in an interview with PIX11 News after a late-morning news conference promoting the changes. “We’ve got to make sure that we do everything in our ability to make it right, and if we don’t do everything in our ability, it will continue to be broken,” he said.
The group of state legislative bills have the following specific aims: They would ban police from making any false statements to detainees; require lawyers to be present at the questioning of juveniles; require the questioning of detainees to be recorded.
Also, when a person can prove they’ve been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, they would get compensated.
“A million dollars per year, for every year of wrongful incarceration,” said the sponsor of the compensation bill, State Sen. Brian Benjamin.
The legislative packet also aims to eliminate the NYPD’s DNA database, compiled from encounters with residents, whether or not they’ve committed a crime. A bill being introduced in the state legislature would make the state’s DNA database the only one eligible for use in pursuit of criminal convictions.