The 2023 Hero of Justice Award was presented to Rebecca Brown, outgoing Director of Policy at the Innocence Project in New York.
It is not an overstatement to say that the advances made in the national policy landscape on issues related to wrongful convictions since 2005 have come about thanks to Rebecca’s impressive work. Rebecca leads a national coordinated effort to implement federal and state policy changes aimed at preventing wrongful convictions, increasing access to the courts, and assuring compensation for those who have been wrongfully convicted.
At the federal level, she has led legislative lobbying efforts each year focused on increasing the available federal wrongful conviction grant funds, which benefit many innocence organizations, including the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
At the state level, Rebecca and her team have lobbied for the passage of more than 250 laws across the country. This includes working closely with us on Pennsylvania-focused improvements since we opened in 2009. In this work, she has earned credibility with diverse stakeholders around the Commonwealth.
Rebecca has been instrumental in the following Pennsylvania-specific initiatives:
• Issue-based advocacy before Pennsylvania's Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions, an advisory body to the State's Judiciary Committee. The Committee released a report in 2011 that established the need for specific reforms to strengthen investigations and reduce wrongful convictions.
• Advancing the 2018 amendments to Pennsylvania's post-conviction laws, resulting in more time for Project cliets to file a petition for releif as well as greater access to DNA testing.
• Strategic support in our ongoing policy efforts focused on mandatory recording of interrogations and compensation legislation - a critical need in Pennsylvania, one of only twelve remaining states with no compensation law in place to provide resources to those who have been wrongfully convicted in support of their transition out of prison.
Learn more about the Philadelphia Annual Celebration on May 16th, where this award was presented: https://painnocence.org/Philadelphia-Celebration-2023