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Poll: New Yorkers support Wrongful Convictions Act

The vast majority of people polled last month supported legislation that would make it easier to overturn wrongful convictions.

New York State Capitol

New York State Capitol Lavendertime, iStock / Getty Images Plus

Before breaking for the year, state lawmakers approved legislation meant to make it easier to overturn wrongful convictions, even if the convicted person originally pleaded guilty. Although the legislation was opposed by Republicans and some prosecutors, new polling shows the legislation to be popular among New York voters, even as Gov. Kathy Hochul declines to say whether she’ll sign it. 

In a survey of 628 registered voters conducted on June 13 and 14, 77% of respondents said they at least somewhat supported “a bill that would make it easier for wrongfully convicted people to be exonerated,” with 51% saying they “strongly support” the measure. The support grew even higher among Democrats, with 66% of them offering strong support and another 20% offering some support for the legislation.

According to the phone and text survey from the liberal-leaning firm Public Policy Polling and commissioned by advocacy groups Make the Road NY and VOCAL-NY, the measure even has support from a majority of Republicans. Of those surveyed, 65% strongly or somewhat supported a bill that would make it easier to overturn wrongful convictions. The poll also indicated broad geographic support, with a majority of respondents from New York City, Long Island and Westchester, upstate and Western New York saying they strongly or somewhat support the legislation.

Criminal justice advocates lauded the new poll as evidence Hochul should sign the bill. “This polling shows definitively what we've been saying for years: passing the Challenging Wrongful Convictions Act is both good policy and good politics," Nick Encalada-Malinowski, civil rights campaign director at VOCAL-NY, said in a statement. "The legislature has done its part in passing the bill and now Governor Hochul should sign it."

Lawmakers have not yet sent the bill to Hochul’s desk (a step usually taken only after the governor has indicated she’ll sign it), and she has offered no indication of where she stands on the bill. A spokesperson for the governor said she is reviewing the legislation.