December 23, 2023
CONTACT: Nick Malinowski-Encalada, firstname.lastname@example.org
HOCHUL BLOCKS JUSTICE: VOCAL-NY STATEMENT ON NEW YORK GOVERNOR VETO OF THE CHALLENGING WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS ACT
NEW YORK — In response to Governor Hochul vetoing The Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act – legislation championed by VOCAL-NY leaders, elected officials in the Senate and Assembly and New York State voters, VOCAL-NY released the following statement.
“Governor Hochul’s failure to sign the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act only shows that she believes that innocent people should be in prison. There’s no excuse for her not to sign this bill. We will be back in Albany in January to continue our efforts to end wrongful incarceration and to keep fighting until there is justice,” said VOCAL-NY leader, Roger Clark.
New York has a serious wrongful conviction problem. More than 300 people have been exonerated in New York since 1989, resulting in a collective 3,068 years of life lost to wrongful convictions. These convictions have a long-lasting impact even after prison, creating barriers to employment, housing and family custody. They can even lead to deportation. New York ranks third highest in the number of wrongful convictions in the nation, trailing behind Texas and Illinois.
The Challenging Wrongful Conviction Act (S7548/A2878) would have overhauled Criminal Procedure Law 440 to ensure that all New Yokers have a legitimate pathway to exoneration. New York’s current post-conviction processes are antiquated. Half the counties in New York have never recorded an exoneration.
The legislation would have brought New York in line with most other states by providing a right to a hearing, appeals and post-conviction discovery.
It would also clarify assignment of counsel and would have fixed the quirk in New York State law that prevents people who pleaded guilty from pursuing exoneration on actual innocence grounds and would remove other technical barriers and procedural roadblocks to exoneration.