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Tennessee Considers Innocence Commission March 12, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Tennessee introduced legislation in February that would create an innocence commission to review wrongful convictions and recommend systemic reforms preventing them in the future. The “Tennessee Innocence Commission Act of 2007 (HB1333/SB538)” is currently being reviewed by both the state House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Noting that “a number of people across the country have been exonerated and released after serving several years in prison,” the bill creates a nine-member innocence commission with the ability to issue subpoenas and administer oaths in the investigation of wrongful convictions. The bill also notes that exonerations in a number of states have resulted in unbiased review of state criminal justice systems and “recommendations for significant reforms,” but that Tennessee has not undertaken such a review.

The innocence commission would be comprised of members appointed by Tennessee officials and would include a law enforcement officer, a prosecutor and a public defender. Each member would serve a two year term and the chair of the commission would be appointed by the Governor. In addition to reviewing cases, the commission would be required to submit an annual report of finding and recommendations for reform, including possible legislation to prevent future wrongful convictions.

Clark McMillan was exonerated in 2002 after spending 22 years in a Tennessee prison for a crime he did not commit. His wrongful conviction was largely a result of a mistaken eyewitness identification.



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