Controversy over a new law allowing suspects to visit crime scenes


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New state criminal justice reforms will be implemented in January, but a new provision allowing accused suspects to revisit crime scenes has sparked a debate between law enforcement on whether this new provision is safe for victims. 

“I could see the understanding of both sides, the prosecution, and the defense being able to fully understand the crime scene,” said Alan Laird, a captain with the Irondequoit police.   

Under Governor Cuomo’s new criminal justice reforms, accused suspects may petition the court to revisit crime scenes.  

A state site says the purpose is to level the playing field between defense and prosecution.  It says the legislation would; 

overhaul New York’s antiquated discovery process by which prosecutors could withhold basic evidence until the day the trial begins…” 

While the legislation could benefit defendants when building their case, district attorney Sandra Doorley says, it will come with challenges.  

“Say for example there was a burglary or you know maybe a sexual assault that occurs in a home, under the law, the defendant can petition the court to go back to that scene. Those are the specific instance where I’m talking about re-victimize the victim would not be a good thing,” said Sandra Foorley,  Monroe county DA 

Doorley says she has already addressed with law enforcement how to implement this law in a way that protects both victims and defendants.  

“They’re documenting as best as they can so that when that application is made to a court, we can say you know what, it was preserved through this documentary evidence there’s nothing new that that defendant would need,” said DA Doorley.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said,

“If they have specific concerns we will review them, but we’re proud to have passed the most comprehensive reforms in a generation.”

This provision is just one of many that were passed in the state 2020 budget. They will take effect in January of 2020.

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