The Florida Innocence Commission issued its final report, thoroughly detailing the findings of its 25-member panel over the course of its two years in existence. We hope that the thorough research done by these respected professionals will be taken seriously by policymakers. To quote from the chairman’s remarks:
“If these recommendations are not given serious consideration, thoroughly vetted and implemented in some form, then the problems suffered in the past of wrongful convictions…will continue to occur..some may even argue the price of justice is too high…There can never be an unreasonable price attached to a founding principle of this Country (Rule of Law).”
The study determined where, in the process of determining the guilt of a suspect, poor procedure has often led to false conviction of an innocent person. Such procedures that need serious reform are in the processes of culling of eye-witness reports, assessing the reliability of interviews with jailhouse snitches (jail-mates of the convicted), and preparing ill-equipped defense lawyers.
We hope that Florida prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs will understand the need for consistency amongst separate agencies. As it stands, they resolved to implement a plan to merely recommend that agencies develop their own standards for how to conduct a photo lineup. Within this plan, they merely suggest that the photo administrator should not know who the suspect is. Should separate police departments within the same jurisdiction (Tallahassee Police Department and FSUPD) use different processes, then the same lineup of suspects may leave different impressions on the eyewitness choosing from the two different lineups.
The measure of making sure the administrator does not know who the suspect is is called a double-blind, because then neither party knows who the suspect is. This is a most obligatory measure of any scientific process, something that should be left up to more than a suggestion.
The Florida Supreme Court created the Commission two years ago in response to the increasing number of exonerations of wrongfully convicted people.
Numerous articles erroneously reported that Governor Rick Scott ended funding for the Commission. This is not true. The funding for the Commission ended because it was only slated for two years. Now that it has completed its work, it has died a natural death.
Although we have supported the formation and the work of the Innocence Commission, we are two separate organizations. Some of have confused IPF with the Innocence Commission, as the Commission stated in their official report that they have been contacted by inmates and their related parties “requesting that the Commission investigate their claims of actual innocence.” We are here for that purpose. They served their researched-based purpose and have left their findings for policymakers to learn from.
Read the final report here by click the link that says Florida Innocence Commission Final Report to the Supreme Court of Florida.