That's the title of Gary Craig's column in today's Rochester Democrat & Chronicle of New York state. Here's an extended excerpt:
Jonathan Gradess sees a certain logic in holding a conference on wrongful convictions in Monroe County.
“I like the idea that (the conference) is going to be in a jurisdiction that has been in the vanguard of mistakes,” said Gradess, who heads the New York Defenders Association. “It’s sort of like taking the death penalty to Texas. It’s taking wrongful convictions to Rochester.”
A statement that stings some in law enforcement but can’t be denied is that Monroe County has had its share of high-profile wrongful convictions.
Growing research into misidentifications by victims and false confessions by the accused show that wrongful arrests and convictions likely can be curbed. And on Friday, April 20, the Rochester Institute of Technology’s criminal justice and psychology departments will host a conference with the leading experts in these topics as well as others.
Among the speakers at the conference, titled “Justice Miscarried: Convicting the Innocent,” will be John Jay College psychology professor Saul Kassin, an expert in false confessions; Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project; John Jay College professor Jennifer Dysart, an expert in eyewitness identification; Steven Barnes, who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit; and Eugene Pigott Jr., an associate judge on New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
“This conference will help people truly understand the peer-reviewed research that explains why — despite their best intentions — eyewitnesses so often misidentify innocent people as the perpetrators of crime,” said LaVerne McQuiller Williams, associate professor and head of RIT’s criminal justice department. “It will also address why innocent people falsely confess to having committed crimes and the threat that prosecutorial misconduct presents in convicting the innocent.”
The 2012 New York State Wrongful Convictions Conference will be held April 20. Registration is free, but ends on April 12.