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US prosecutors revisiting nearly 5,000 convictions as part of national push to ensure justice

  • Convictions Questioned Prosecutors-1.jpg

    FILE - In this May 6, 2014 file photo, Robert Hill, center, stands with his lawyers Harold Ferguson, left, and Sharon Katz, right, as Justice Neil Firetog declares Hill exonerated in Brooklyn Supreme Court, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Prosecutors asked to throw out the decades-old convictions of three half-brothers who were investigated by homicide detective Louis Scarcella, whose tactics have come into question. The defendants, Hill, Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin became the first people connected to the detective to be exonerated. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File) (The Associated Press)

  • Convictions Questioned Prosecutors-2.jpg

    FILE - In this May 6, 2014 file photo, Robert Hill smiles after arriving at Brooklyn Supreme Court, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, where he and his half brothers Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin were set to be exonerated in conviction investigated by homicide detective Louis Scarcella, whose tactics have come into question. When the decades-old murder convictions were thrown out all at once last month, they became a dramatic example of an idea spreading among prosecutors nationwide: “integrity units” dedicated to double-checking convictions to determine whether justice was really served. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File) (The Associated Press)

  • Convictions Questioned Prosecutors-3.jpg

    FILE - In this May 6, 2014 file photo, Alvena Jennette, center left, arrives with his mother Louise Austin, center, to Brooklyn Supreme Court, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, where Austin’s half brother Robert Hill was about to have his conviction thrown out, along those of Jennette and their half brother Darryl Austin, who died in prison. When the three half brothers’ decades-old murder convictions were tossed, they became a dramatic example of an idea spreading among prosecutors nationwide: “integrity units” dedicated to double-checking convictions. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File) (The Associated Press)

  • Convictions Questioned Prosecutors-4.jpg

    FILE - In this April 9, 2014 file photo, family members of inmates who claim they were wrongfully convicted gather to show support as a group of New York City men, who claimed they were framed by a crooked police detective decades ago, voiced their demand for prosecutors to speed up an ongoing review of the detective's cases at a rally on the steps of City Hall in New York. When three half brothers’ decades-old murder convictions were thrown out last month, they became a dramatic example of an idea spreading among prosecutors nationwide: “integrity units” dedicated to double-checking convictions to determine whether justice was served. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File) (The Associated Press)

When three half brothers' decades-old murder convictions were thrown out last month, they became a dramatic example of an idea spreading among prosecutors nationwide: "integrity units" dedicated to double-checking convictions.

Over the last seven years, more than a dozen prosecutors' offices have created such staff teams or expert panels to review wrongful-conviction claims. The groups have agreed to take second looks at more than 4,900 cases, resulting in at least 61 convictions tossed so far.

That's according to a tally compiled from interviews, prosecutors' reports and news accounts.

The initiatives are underway from New York City to Santa Clara County, California, and from Chicago to Dallas.

Advocates see the reviews as open-minded efforts to address possible injustice. But some defense attorneys are cautious about embracing them.

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