TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – A state commission looking at wrongful convictions heard Friday that bad identifications and the mishandling of evidence by authorities are the chief culprits in a legal system that too often sends innocent people to prison.
The Florida Innocence Commission opened a 15-month review with testimony from several wrongfully convicted Floridians, who told of the horror and agony of losing part of their lives in prison for a crime they didn't commit.
The commission was told that out of nearly 300 falsely imprisoned inmates later cleared by DNA test results, more than three-quarters were wrongly identified by their victims and more than half were convicted on evidence that was badly handled by authorities.
Former American Bar Association President Talbot "Sandy'' D'Alemberte pushed for formation of the panel so lessons could be learned from past mistakes.
The 23-member panel was created by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady to look at wrongful convictions, make recommendations to reduce their occurrence and speed up justice for those still wrongfully incarcerated.
He said the panel will look at what changes might be required at the legislative and judicial levels to improve the system.
It is scheduled to give the state's high court a final report by January 2012. It is chaired by Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr, of Orlando.
Pictured: Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr