Dwimoh Calls For Reform At DA’s Office, Gonzalez Says It’s Already In Place

Ama Dwimoh on the steps of the Brooklyn Supreme Court alongside Shabaka Shakur (L) and Jabbar Collins (R)
Ama Dwimoh

Everyone says their innocent but what happens when they really are?

Brooklyn District Attorney candidate Ama Diwmoh, is looking to end the tragedy behind wrongful convictions in the borough with a new reform plan she rolled out yesterday dubbed, ‘Justice Matters.’

The blueprint to her plan includes creating a standing commission to review prosecutorial misconduct and appointment of a special prosecutor when potential criminal behavior by a prosecutor leads to wrongful conviction.

Ama Diwmoh

Dwimoh believes that a three-point integrity agenda is necessary in order to restore the integrity of the DA’s office and earn back the trust of Brooklynites.

“It has been several years since Brooklyn discovered that its DA’s office sent numerous innocent men to prison—many for more than a decade. Yet very little has changed at the DA’s office to ensure that these tragic miscarriages of justice will not happen again. Strict protocols, mandated trainings and systems of accountability must be put in place immediately to protect Brooklynites from wrongful prosecution and imprisonment, and to restore the trust the DA’s office has lost from the people it serves,” said Dwimoh.

The former chief of the Crimes Against Children Bureau in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office claims that her plan is in response to recent revelations that mistakes and misconduct by criminal justice professionals resulted in the wrongful convictions of numerous defendants in Brooklyn, many of whom have spent more than a decade in prison before being exonerated.   

One exoneree, Shabaka Shakur spent 27 years in prison and was only released when the indictment against him was dismissed in 2015.

“Ama Dwimoh’s Integrity Agenda is exactly what’s needed to prevent future wrongful convictions, to hold members of the criminal justice community accountable for bad behavior, and to create a higher standard of justice in Brooklyn. The DA’s office should immediately enact Ama’s reforms and other candidates should commit to the same serious plan for addressing these unresolved issues, which shamefully led to the wrongful conviction of so many men,” said Shakur.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

However, the DA’s Office already has a Conviction Review Unit dedicated to fighting wrongful convictions that was established in 2014 by the late DA Ken Thompson alongside now acting-DA Eric Gonzalez as a means to correct systemic flaws in Brooklyn’s criminal justice system. Specifically these flaws included poor oversight, inadequate independent review, and a lack of prosecutorial and police transparency.

Most recently, the prosecutor’s office has conducted extensive training with staffers by hiring a retired judge as an ethics officer, who reports directly to the DA in instances of Assistant District Attorney misconduct and who conducts regular training on wrongful convictions and how to avoid them, according to a source familiar with the office

Since launching, the unit has gone on to exonerate 22 people, with the most recent exoneree being John O’Hara, who was convicted of voter fraud or “voting from the wrong address.” A crime only previously committed by Susan B. Anthony in 1872, before women were allowed to vote.

“There are no allegations of recent prosecutorial misconduct in the Brooklyn DA’s office and any insinuation to the contrary is political hearsay,” said Gonzalez campaign spokesperson Lupe Todd-Medina.

“Under former DA Ken Thompson and Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, the office has been a national leader in addressing past wrongful convictions, providing second chances to our youth, protecting families and ensuring equal justice for all Brooklynites. Assuring that no innocent person is convicted of a crime they did not commit is DA Gonzalez’s top priority,” she added. 

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