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For those wrongfully convicted of a , a new state bill would establish “actual innocence” as a reason to vacate a prior conviction.

State Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who chairs the committee on criminal justice matters, said the state is behind the curve on giving courts an opportunity to reverse convictions in cases without DNA evidence. Currently, state law only provides a narrow avenue to present a claim of innocence. Under this new bill, if a defendant can provide reliable and relevant proof of innocence, a criminal court could grant a “post-conviction motion.”

“This ‘actual innocence’ is about justice and fairness,” said Schneiderman, who sits on a task force for wrongful convictions. “It ensures that innocent people don’t spend decades behind bars while real criminals go free.”

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