Testimony: Examining NYPD Investigative Procedures and Safeguards Relating to Wrongful Convictions

Jackie Gosdigian, Supervising Policy Counsel at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) testified before an Oversight Hearing on Examining NYPD Investigative Procedures and Safeguards Relating to Wrongful Convictions held by the New York City Council's Committee on Public Safety.

This testimony details several of the core issues related to wrongful convictions such as the importance of access to counsel in preventing wrongful convictions, access to discovery, faulty forensics, racially biased policing, & racial bias in technology.

"Access to counsel is critical to prevent wrongful convictions, but simply providing someone with a free lawyer is not enough. In addition to attorneys, at BDS those charged with a crime have access to investigators, social workers, DNA and forensic experts, and numerous team leaders and supervisors with years of trial experience. It’s also imperative that public defense continue to attract new lawyers from top law schools around the country, lawyers who have a calling for public service, and genuinely want to fight for people’s rights and reform the criminal legal system. This wrap-around, client-centered defense approach not only minimizes the risk of wrongful convictions but helps break the cycle of rearrest and legal system involvement.


"Lengthy mandatory minimums strip judges of their discretion when determining sentencing and serve as prosecutorial leverage in coercing plea deals. Two-strike laws further lengthen the sentence of an individual with a prior conviction, and three-strike laws condemn people to life in prison. The Eliminate Mandatory Minimums Act legislation would eliminate mandatory minimum sentences, allowing judges to consider the individual factors and mitigating circumstances in a case. In doing so, this legislation will finally undo the harm of the Rockefeller Drug Law era and provide for alternatives to incarceration that will address the root causes of criminal system involvement, breaking the cycle of arrest and incarceration, and reducing the risk of wrongful convictions.

Read the full testimony here.

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