The fight to reduce wrongful convictions continues in the south with Lousiana signing a new law that allows expert analysis into the courtroom to challenge mistaken eyewitness identities.
Signed on Wednesday (June 5) by Gov. John Bel Edwards, Wilbert Jones and Reginald Adams of Innocence Project New Orleans helped bring to light the importance of wrongful convictions. The advocacy group fights for sensible criminal justice policies that reduce wrongful convictions.
Jee Park, Innocence Project New Orleans Director, said in a statement, “Wrongful conviction cases, together with over 40 years of scientific research, show us that eyewitness identification is fallible, and yet it is so convincing that, when it is wrong, it poses a serious risk of convicting the innocent.”
According to Nola.com, Louisiana joins 48 other states that give experts the opportunity to testify during criminal trials. The state reportedly leads the country in the number of exonerations per capita. Jones of the Innocence Project New Orleans explained how important the law is for the future of prison reform. Jones spent 46 years in prison for a wrongful rape conviction in 1971. The case heavily relied on eyewitness testimony who said she was not 100 percent sure she identified the right person.
“This law is so important. If an expert could have educated my jury, I may not have been wrongly convicted,” he said. “This law will help prevent other innocent people from experiencing what happened to me.”
The Innocence Project New Orleans is one of the oldest innocence organizations in the United States aiming to free innocent, life-sentenced prisoners. Decades of research prove that eyewitness identification cannot be based on common sense, it is more complex.
Learn more about Innocence Project New Orleans here.