Wrongfully convicted prisoners in Florida and other states benefit from conviction review units’ work. A Florida man recently obtained release after serving 34 years of a 400-year sentence for a robbery conviction.
What are conviction review units and how do they help wrongfully convicted people?
What are conviction review units?
Conviction review units investigate past convictions to determine when convictions should be vacated because of a wrongful conviction or flaws in the conviction process. Conviction review units may also conduct audits of cases that involve bad actors to determine if people received convictions for more serious crimes than their case warranted.
Some units include multiple investigators, attorneys and support personnel. Others involve just one or two people.
How do conviction review units obtain exonerations?
Conviction review units often collaborate with organizations, such as the Innocence Project, to investigate cases. When they can gather enough evidence to make a case, they then work to convince the judicial system to review a conviction. This process often takes several years.
How successful are conviction review units?
Conviction review units have helped obtain exonerations for over 670 people nationwide. The most common reasons for exoneration include perjury, official misconduct, false accusations, false confessions, misleading or false forensic evidence, mistaken witness identification and inadequate legal defense.
Even with the help of a conviction review unit, the process of obtaining an exoneration is lengthy and difficult. Many people never get their cases reviewed by the courts. However, conviction review units give wrongfully convicted people a better chance of obtaining an exoneration than those who try to do it alone.