The Innocence Commission Task Team was formed by the MACUCC Board of Directors in 2009, and confirmed by the MACUCC Annual Meeting in 2010. The concept of a task team on an innocence commission was presented to the Massachusetts Conference, UCC, as early as 2007.
The Task Team is composed of church members meeting monthly. As we have become more aware that innocent persons are being convicted and serving time in Massachusetts, we have become dedicated to making changes in the criminal justice system to make it less likely that the wrong person is convicted.
Our primary goal is to have the Commonwealth create an innocence commission, which would make recommendations to the legislature for improvements in the work of the police, the prosecutors, the courts, and the defense attorneys.
As the creation of the commission itself does not mean that improvements to the justice system will automatically happen, we are committed to supporting legislation favorable to our goal of a fairer, more accurate, criminal justice system in Massachusetts, whenever and however that legislation originates. Examples of such desired legislation would include scienific eyewitness procedures; videotaping custodial and other questioning of suspects and witnesses; careful and fully disclosed use of informants', cooperating indivduals' and inmates' testimonies; full disclosure of exculpatory information to the defendant and his/her counsel; better law enforcement training; independent, impartial and scientific reliability of forensic laboratory operations; oversight and discipline of police, prosecutorial, defense and judicial misconduct; payment by the Commonwealth of all reasonable trial preparation costs; the post-conviction DNA and other forensic testing law passed in 2012; and any other legislation that would make it less likely that innocent persons would be convicted.
We are not naive as to the difficulty of moving laws through the legislature. However, we believe that with the support of the members of our churches all over the Commonwealth, our goals can be achieved. We would warmly welcome anyone to the Task Team who believes they would like to be a part of this work. And we need to call upon many more of you to contact your representatives in government at an appororiate time. Together, we can create a fairer justice system and therefore a better society.
We would like to hear from you.
Grace and Peace
Rev. Jonathan C. Tetherly, Chair, Innocence Commission Task Team