INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will establish a Conviction Integrity Unit in early 2021, Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced Tuesday.
The unit will work to prevent, identify, and remedy wrongful convictions by conducting fact-based reviews of past convictions.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will be the first prosecutor’s office in Indiana to set up such a unit. It will act as an independent unit within the prosecutor’s office.
“The only person who benefits from a wrongful conviction is the person who committed the crime,” said Prosecutor Mears. “Incarcerating an individual who did not commit the crime undermines the integrity of the judicial system and does not bring justice to victims.”
Prosecutor Mears said the decision to develop a Conviction Integrity Unit is in response to requests from the community as well as results reported from similar units in other areas.
In addition to reviewing cases, the unit will train prosecutors and investigators on ways the office can operate more efficiently, effectively, and adopt nationally-recognized best practices to safeguard against future wrongful convictions.
“We have to look back and acknowledge if things were not handled in a way that is fair,” Prosecutor Mears stated. “We want to make sure that every conviction that comes out of Marion County is based on fact and applying the law to those facts; and not motivated by any other reason.”
The unit is expected to begin accepting requests for review of convictions early next year.