ALBANY, N.Y. (PIX11) — New Yorkers who spent years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit rallied in Albany Tuesday to convince lawmakers to pass The Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act.
The legislation is supported by The Innocence Project. Advocates say it would give people with a claim of innocence a pathway in the court system to prove their case and also provide them with access to a post-conviction attorney.
“New York is the third highest in the nation when it comes to wrongful convictions,” State Sen. Zellnor Myrie told PIX11 News. “If you are innocent, you want all the tools you need to fight for that innocence.”
Myrie is calling on his colleagues in Albany to set aside $10 million in the state budget to pay for post-conviction legal representation.
PIX11 News asked Manhattan Assemblyman Dan Quart if providing increased access to attorneys would encourage more people to appeal their cases, even if they are not actually innocent.
“The argument that this will lead to a floodgates, that hasn’t been demonstrated in states like New Jersey that have have had this right since the mid 1990s,” Quart said.
The Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act still needs to pass in the State Assembly and the State Senate before it would go to the governor’s desk for her signature.