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Victim of wrongful conviction free after more than two decades

A 41-year-old Brooklyn man is now free after spending more than two decades in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit.

This particular case is merely the most recent overturned conviction in a long line of cases involving retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella. According to a recent report by the Daily News, the Brooklyn district attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) has already overturned nine cases linked to Scarcella, with 30 more cases yet to review.

Common causes of explosions and fires at construction sites

Think explosions only occur in the movies? You had better think again. The reality is that explosions occur far more often than many people realize, and in a variety of places — including workplaces.

In fact, according to the most recent numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, explosions and fires accounted for 88 work-related deaths in 2016 alone. While this death toll was a decrease from the year before, it is still alarming, particularly if you work in some of the more dangerous occupations, such as construction.

Scaffolding law survives another legislative session

Despite repeated attacks, New York’s Scaffolding Law has survived yet another legislative session. In fact, while this law continues to come under fire in the media by some lawmakers and certain “pro-business” groups, not a single bill was introduced this year — let alone passed — that would have eliminated this very important construction safety law.

For those who are unaware, the Scaffolding Law — otherwise known as New York Labor Law §240 — was originally enacted in the 1880s to protect construction workers who were working high atop the city’s burgeoning skyline.

3 groups of construction workers who are most at risk of death

While everyone knows construction work can be dangerous, many don’t know just how dangerous. According to a report issued earlier this year by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), the fatality rate among construction workers in New York State has skyrocketed in the past five years — far outpacing the increase in actual construction jobs.

In fact, the report, which was appropriately entitled “Deadly Skyline,” found that the fatality rate among construction workers in New York was 4.6 times the fatality rate among all workers. Even worse, the rate of construction worker fatalities increased by an alarming 41.5 percent over the last five years in New York.

Do plea bargains prevent wrongful convictions? Yes and no.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that those who plead guilty to crimes must be guilty of them. Why else would someone accept punishment for something they didn’t actually do? However, new research finds that in America at least, this natural link between guilt and plea bargaining isn’t always so ironclad.

Research gathered by Injustice Watch’s Trading Away Justice project finds that over 90 percent of criminal cases end in a plea bargain of some kind. Plea bargains offer defendants a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea or allow them to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

How dangerous is construction work? In a word: VERY.

Even though most people know construction can be dangerous work, many don’t realize just how dangerous it actually is.

For instance, did you know that 71 construction workers died in New York alone in 2016 (the most recent year for which data is available)? This was the highest death total in 16 years, according to a report issued earlier this year by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH).

Why doesn’t New York update its wrongful conviction law?

Despite repeated attempts by several lawmakers, New York’ wrongful conviction compensation statute hasn’t been updated in more than 10 years. In fact, while other states are activity amending their laws to provide more benefits to victims of wrongful convictions, New York hasn’t updated its law since 2007.

For instance, Kansas recently passed a law that provides wrongful-conviction victims with $65,000 for every year they spend wrongfully behind bars, plus addition benefits such as health care, tuition assistance and help finding somewhere to live. Many are now calling this new Kansas law a “model for the nation.” So if Kansas can figure it out, why can’t New York?

New law requires 40 hours of construction safety training

After much debate, the New York Department of Buildings (DOB) has finally settled on the construction safety training requirements originally put in place last year when the City Council passed Local Law 196.

As recently reported by Crain’s New York Business, construction workers will now be required to complete 40 hours of safety training by next spring. While last year’s law allowed the city to require as many as 55 hours of training, officials ultimately decided to only mandate the minimum 40 hours.

Report: Workers are more at risk on non-union construction sites

Everyone knows construction is a dangerous gig. Whether you are working with heavy machinery or high atop scaffolding, there are dangers everywhere -- and many of them are deadly.

However, while virtually every construction site has its own share of hazards, a report issued earlier this year highlights that workers on non-union construction sites may be at greater risk when compared to other construction workers.

Truck driver fatigue: Will proposed bill make things better?

Having fatigued truckers on the road is an obvious danger, which is one reason why there are so many rules and regulations regarding how long truck drivers can stay behind the wheel before taking a break.

While the purpose of these rules is to make our roadways safer, some believe the current regulations -- otherwise known as the Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations -- are far too strict, and do nothing for highway safety. One lawmaker has even introduced legislation (House Resolution 5417) that would, is passed, require changes to the current HOS regs.

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