Ryan Part of Group Addressing Wrongful Convictions
LOWELL -- Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan is among the co-chairs of a statewide organization recently launched to prevent, identify and remedy wrongful convictions.
The Conviction Integrity Program Working Group has started convening meetings with the goal to “survey the landscape of existing conviction integrity programs in Massachusetts and nationwide,” according to a press release issued Thursday from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
“It is a prosecutor’s obligation to do justice as well as to protect the public safety,” Ryan said in the press release. “That obligation does not end with a defendant’s conviction. Recognizing that ours is a human system, it is imperative that prosecutors develop both plans for reviewing convictions and best practices for preventing wrongful convictions.”
The goal of the integrity working group is to take a proactive and collaborative approach to developing practices that will inform prosecutors, Ryan said.
“We are all better served when the system works fairly and verdicts are unassailable,” she added.
The Working Group was created as a result of an Massachusetts Bar Association Criminal Justice Reform Working Group recommendation and it aims to promote public trust and confidence in the criminal justice system, which Attorney General Maura Healey described in the release as critical.
“The legal system must always meet the highest standards for integrity by avoiding wrongful convictions with preventative measures, and providing a prompt investigation and resolution to those who have been wrongfully convicted,” said Working Group co-chair Martin Healy, chief legal counsel and chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Bar Association.
“Together with our valued partners, District Attorney Ryan and Attorney General Healey, we will provide an added layer of oversight to promote the fair and universal application of the rule of law,” he added.
Aside from Ryan and Healy, Working Group co-chairs include First Assistant Attorney General Mary Strother; Richard Cole, of Cole Civil Rights and Safe Schools Consulting, Massachusetts Bar Association representative and committee reporter; Carolyn McGowan, attorney-in-charge of the Middlesex Superior Court Trial Unit for the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
Group members include Professor Sharon Beckman, director of Boston College Innocence Program at the Boston College Law School; Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz; Attorney Marissa Leigh Elkins, of Elkins, Auer, Rudof & Schiff; Staff Attorney Ira Grant, Committee for Public Counsel Services Innocence Program; Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Bethany Lynch; Radha Natarajan, executive director of the New England Innocence Project; Alicia Rebello-Pradas, deputy chief of Police & Government Division of the Attorney General’s Office; law student Pippa Temple, the Boston College Innocence Program; and Leslie Walker, former executive director of the Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts.