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Legislation in New York would offer wrongfully convicted $1 million for every year incarcerated

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Posted at 6:50 AM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 09:50:31-04

LOWER MANHATTAN — They're among the best-known people to have served time in prison for a crime they did not commit. Now, the Central Park Five, also known as the Exonerated Five, have joined New York state legislators to advocate five legal reforms aimed at preventing other people from being wrongfully convicted.

The legislative package also seeks to ensure that people who have been wrongfully incarcerated receive a standard level of compensation.

"The system is still broken," said Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five. "We've got to make sure that we do everything in our ability to make it right, and if we don't do everything in our ability, it will continue to be broken."

The group of state legislative bills have the following specific aims: They would ban police from making any false statements to detainees, they would require lawyers to be present at the questioning of juveniles and they would require the questioning of detainees to be recorded.

Finally, the bills offer compensation to people who can prove they've been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated — $1 million for every year of wrongful incarceration.

The legislative packet also aims to eliminate the NYPD's DNA database, compiled from encounters with residents, whether or not they've committed a crime. A bill introduced in the state legislature would make the state's DNA database the only one eligible for use in pursuit of criminal convictions.

This story was originally published by James Ford on WPIX in New York.