Today, Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a bill championed by Senator Bobby Zirkin to ensure that innocent people who previously pled guilty are able to prove their innocence in court. The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) worked with the University of Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic (UBIPC) and the Innocence Project to remedy this problem created by Maryland courts over the past several years.
Senate Bill 423 reinstated the right for those who pled guilty to obtain post-conviction DNA testing or otherwise prove their innocence in court. This had previously been eliminated by the Maryland courts in 2016 and 2017.
“This is a tremendous victory for the innocent men and women currently serving time in Maryland prisons,” said Shawn Armbrust, MAIP Executive Director. “There’s no reason for anyone to remain in prison when they can prove their innocence, and Gov. Hogan and the General Assembly did the right thing by stepping in to fix this problem.”
Ten percent of DNA exonerees nationwide and 40 percent of those in Maryland pled guilty to crimes they didn’t commit. Over the past three years, this fact hasn’t kept the Maryland courts from finding that those who pled guilty – but had new evidence proving their innocence – couldn’t challenge their convictions in court and should simply remain in prison.
S.B. 423 corrects this injustice.
Founded in 2000, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project corrects and prevents the conviction of innocent people in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. We are one of the most successful of the 54 innocence organizations in the country. We have helped to secure the release and/or exoneration of 27 innocent men who spent a total of 464 years in prison for crimes they did not do. We have also helped pass 13 laws that help improve the criminal justice system.