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ABC's new legal drama 'Conviction' premieres Monday, Pima County has a Conviction Integrity Unit

Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 21:29:52-04

ABC's new show 'Conviction' premieres at Monday at 9pm. The show is about a Conviction Integrity Unit made up of lawyers, detectives, and forensic experts.

The CIU examines cases to make sure the right person is locked up. 

Nearly 30 CIUs are across the country. One was established in Pima County two years ago.

Rick Unklesbay runs the county's CIU. He says right now the unit is looking into 40 cases where a person believes they were convicted of a crime they didn't commit and exhausted their appeals. 

"You want to make sure you have the right person and if you don't you have someone that could be dangerous that is out there," said Unklesbay.  "These units are starting because these prosecutors have duty to look at cases and make sure we did the right thing with the right thing with the right person being convicted."

The unit does forensic and DNA testing, interviews witnesses and speaks with trial defense attorney's looking for something missed. 

Unklesbay says less than one percent are convicted for a crime they didn't commit.

"Even if there is one out there than it is a big deal , even one person shouldn't be wrongfully convicted," he said.

The county's CIU helped Eddie Collins who was charged with a felony murder in 1973. He was sentenced to life in prison and Unklesbay says the sentence was unfair.

With the units help, Collins is now eligible for parole in two weeks.

"I can safely say we would not have gotten this outcome without their help," said Katherine Puzauskas, a Supervising Legal Clinic Attorney.

"This TV show could bring to folks attention there are things we need to do and improve the criminal justice system because that is everyone on both sides of the isle prosecution and defense want to make sure we improve the system and do the best job that we can," said Unklesbay.

If you think you are wrongfully convicted, submit an application