Family Members Seek Justice For The Wrongfully Convicted

Michael Gianaris

June 17, 2011

Senator Gianaris for years has been advocating for a "Peace Commission" to review the cases of potentially wrongfully convicted individuals in order to decrease the number of cases of wrongful conviction in New York.

Dozens of family members stood on the steps of City Hall Thursday, shouting the names of related prisoners that they say have been locked up for no reason.

"I know he is innocent, and that's what hurts," said Louis Holmes, father of a current inmate.

Family members and activists say Albany leaders need to form what they called an "Innocence Commission," a panel with subpoena powers to investigate the cases of inmates who claim they're not guilty and should be set free.

"People ask me, ‘how do you know these men are innocent?’ It is very easy,” said Lonnie Soury of “Spend five minutes looking at their cases, and right away you know something terrible has happened, and it is a terrible injustice."

They say there are problems with testing DNA, false confessions and coerced witness testimonies that lead to innocent people ending up behind bars.

Richard Rosario has been in prison for 15 years for a murder his family says he didn't commit.

"Richard had seven alibi witnesses that were ready to come into trial, but his lawyer failed to call them up," said Maria Maldonado, Rosario’s sister.

State Senator Michael Gianaris has been pushing legislation to help the innocent.

"New York is unfortunately trailing the country in terms of doing what is necessary to prevent wrongful convictions, so we would benefit specifically from setting this commission up as soon as possible," said Gianaris.

Watch the video and read the full story here.