Citing a rise in wrongful-conviction claims by inmates, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is launching a unit of veteran prosecutors to review the integrity of past convictions, joining a small but growing number of prosecutorial agencies around the country devoting resources to identify innocent prisoners.
Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey is asking county supervisors for nearly $1 million to fund the new team, which would include three prosecutors, a senior investigator and a paralegal.
In seeking the funds, Lacey’s office said it wanted to keep up with an increasing number of wrongful-conviction claims that have followed the advent of similar units around the country, a growing number of innocence projects and heightened publicity surrounding innocence claims, county spokesman Dave Sommers said.
Innocence project groups and others hailed the move, saying that it would send a dramatic statement that the office is serious about reversing injustices and could spur the creation of similar units in smaller counties across California.
“This is exactly what should happen in every district attorney’s office in America,” said Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project at the California Western School of Law in San Diego. “We all have the same goal: to make sure the right people are in prison.”
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