Informed Decision Act, draft of proposed bill
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To Ease Discrimination Against the Wrongly Convicted
Title of Bill: Informed Decisions Act
Preamble: WHEREAS criminal convictions are increasingly revealed to be wrongful, through DNA and other available means, in which the convicted person is found actually innocent, meaning they performed no role in the reported crime;
WHEREAS the appellate process and innocence projects lack sufficient resources to fully process the high volume of compelling cases of actual innocence;
WHEREAS law enforcement and others involved in the adversarial criminal justice process historically made identifiable errors—confirmation bias leading to tunnel vision investigations, eyewitness misidentification, false confessions or admissions, official misconduct like noble cause corruption, unsupported forensic science, jail informant biased testimony, inadequate defense, Brady violations, and other errors—each contributing to the probability of wrongly convicting someone fully innocent of the reported crime;
WHEREAS publicly available conviction records fail to differentiate between unquestioned guilt and compelling claims of innocence yet to be processed for exoneration;
WHEREAS a consumer of public conviction records could decide trustworthiness for themselves if provided more context, such as if the person consistently maintained innocence by asserting a right to trial, was dubiously found guilty by a jury, willingly endured a trial penalty of a lengthier sentence, became a model prisoner, then denied parole for apparent lack of remorse, and since released from prison has remained recidivism free;
WHEREAS consumer reporting agencies rely on publicly available conviction records to serve their clients’ needs for determining future behavior based upon reliable information about past behavior, who without a full conviction context cannot reliably distinguish between a criminal mindset and a wrongly convicted person’s desirable integrity of maintaining and demonstrating innocence in the face of adversity, and who have little if any input as to the reliability of this overgeneralizing public criminal record;
WHEREAS those wrongly convicted and not yet exonerated who seek employment, housing, education and other opportunities repeatedly endure legally privileged but erroneous discrimination in employment, housing, education and other opportunities due in part to undifferentiated conviction records,
SECTION 1: BE IT ENACTED BY THE MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE this “Informed Decisions Act.”
SECTION 2: For the purposes of this act,
SUBSECTION A: “maintained innocence” means the person consistently claims actual innocence in regard to the instant offense, and
SUBSECTION B: “demonstrated innocence” means the claimant has not been involved in any other criminal activity since the conviction, and
SUBSECTION C: “undifferentiated criminal record” means no difference is accorded between convictions with compelling claims of actual innocence and other criminal convictions of unquestioned guilt.
SECTION 3: Publishing a criminal conviction shall include sufficient context to provide those utilizing such information to make informed decisions, not based narrowly upon court outcomes that erroneously imply to the information consumer that undifferentiated criminal records are basically the same.
SECTION 4: Context for a published criminal conviction shall include, but not necessarily limited to, the following:
SUBSECTION A: Adjudication type: plea, bench trial, or jury trial.
SUBSECTION B: Verdict type: guilty, no contest, or not guilty.
SUBSECTION C: Sentencing per guidelines: lower than guidelines, within guidelines, or over guidelines (i.e., suggesting a trial penalty).
SUBSECTION D: Incarceration record: number of major misconducts, or any new criminal case.
SUBSECTION E: Discharge context: paroled, or denied parole for lack of contrition from maintaining innocence.
SUBSECTION F: Criminal history: no other criminal history, no prior criminal history, no follow-up charges, or no warrants.
SECTION 5: A person claiming actual innocence, or another person or entity entrusted with power of attorney, may petition the government to include in that person’s public criminal record their status of maintaining and demonstrating innocence, in contrast to the majority of convicted felons who do not claim nor demonstrate actual innocence, and to provide any working link of online information available to the public to verify or refute their claim of actual innocence.
SECTION 6: The person claiming actual innocence, or another person or entity entrusted with power of attorney, may petition the government to properly inform the public that they have always maintained and demonstrated innocence, or claimed innocence after recanting an alleged coerced confession and maintained and demonstrated their innocence since recantation. Claims of partial innocence, or of overcharging criminal complicity, or any other claim besides maintaining and demonstrating actual innocence does not fall under this act.
SECTION 7: The initial processing of these requests for accurate public criminal records shall be processed within the executive administrative branch, and remain independent of the adversarial judicial process to avoid any conflicts of interest that could undermine the reliability of the public record.
SECTION 8: The public record will provide the latest scholarly information including any scholarly debate for the estimated incidence of wrongful convictions, and provide the latest scholarly information including any scholarly debate for how frequent or infrequent felons actually claim full innocence.
SECTION 9: This bill shall go into effect 91 days after passage.