DPD partners with Innocence Clinic to release wrongfully convicted prisoners

- Detroit Police Chief James Craig made a promise Thursday to help wrongfully convicted men and women get out of prison.

"If someone got away with murder, there is a great likelihood they're still out there committing violent crimes," he said.

This is an effort by Craig to right any wrongs for people who are spending time behind bars for crimes they did not commit.

Detroit police are making a pledge to work in cooperation with the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan to help investigate wrongful conviction cases involving Detroit residents.

This means evidence will be expedited, and time will be spared by not having to file a freedom of information act.

The goal is to get it right, and bring some kind of closure to more families.

"Let's say there was someone who was wrongfully convicted and that person was released, and we identify the responsible suspect. What if that suspect is also responsible for other crimes, other murders? And so we get to close even more cases," Craig said.

One wrongful conviction case that stands out to Chief Craig is Davontae Sanford, a young man who spent nine years in prison for a quadruple homicide he did not commit.

Vincent Smothers confessed to being the hit man which followed the release of Sanford last fall.

The man Smothers identified as his accomplice hasn't been charged.

"Apparently there is a suspect, where are we with that, how are we pursuing that, so I want to be able to look at those cases," Craig said.

Detroit police are currently working with the Innocence Clinic on cases that could lead to the release of more people who have been wrongly convicted.

The chief says the allegations brought down on the DPD of mishandling evidence from a 1992 case caught his attention.

"Because if it's true that our investigators from 1992 mishandled evidence or manipulated an outcome, as far as I'm concerned, that's misconduct or another view, it’s criminal misconduct," Craig said.

Chief also believes there are could have been mistakes on other cases, nothing criminal, but the corrections must be made.

"Maybe there was evidence that was overlooked. Not purposeful, but maybe the investigator didn't have it, so in that instance, we take another look," Craig said.


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