Davis County Attorney announces creation of Conviction Integrity Unit
FARMINGTON, Utah — A group of volunteers will now help the Davis County Attorney reconsider cases where people feel they’ve been wrongly convicted.
It’s called a Conviction Integrity Unit, or CIU. It’s designed to reduce the chance of life-changing mistakes made in the justice system.
CIUs are possible thanks to a law that passed in 2020.
The idea behind it is that humans make mistakes.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said he doesn’t want anyone sitting behind bars because of that.
Whether it’s at the state prison, or in a county jail, the idea that someone innocent could be sitting behind bars brings a heavy burden.
“And if that’s the case, we want to make sure we correct that problem and free them,” said Rawlings.
It’s the reason why people like Molly Davis are now part of the nine-person panel that will review cases of potential wrongful convictions in Davis County.
“We need to ensure we have a process to correct mistakes and bring true justice to people,” Davis explained. “We want to make sure no innocent person is sitting behind bars when they should be free.”
Davis is a policy analyst with the Libertas Institute. She helped fight for the law that made this unit possible.
“It speaks to the integrity of the county to recognize that, even with our best intentions, we may still find unconscious bias in the process or some inequality that should be addressed,” said Adrienne Gillespie Andrews, chief diversity officer at Weber State University.
Neither one of these women is a judge or lawyer, making Davis County’s CIU different from others that have been formed so far.
“This is another tool in the arsenal that now Davis County citizens have, and defendants that come through our justice system have to ensure that there is fairness and justice that happens in Davis County,” said Rawlings.
Even though the CIU can only give recommendations, Rawlings said he will follow through with their findings.
“And so then, people will know that if there is a problem, they can send it our way for real consideration, rather than the expectation that we’re always right,” said Andrews.
Convicted felons can apply for help through the Integrity Unit online or through their attorney.
Right now, members of that panel are volunteers. They donate their time, but that may change, depending on how much funding becomes available in the future.
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