Washington, DC (Aug. 11, 2011) –Michael DiLauro, Assistant Public Defender and Director of Training and Legislative Liaison, Office of the Public Defender, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded NACDL’s first Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award on Aug. 5 at NACDL’s 53rd Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado. This award honors individuals or groups whose exceptional efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system.
DiLauro joined the OPD in Providence, Rhode Island in 1980. He worked in the trial division until 2001, when he was promoted to Legislative Liaison. As part of his duties, DiLauro is responsible for drafting and advocating key legislative proposals on behalf of the OPD. He also submits position papers and written or oral testimony concerning various criminal justice-related legislation.
DiLauro’s colleagues recognized him with this award for his tenacious advocacy throughout his career on numerous criminal justice proposals especially those addressing the two leading causes of wrongful convictions in the United States, mistaken eyewitness identification and false confessions. For example, in 2010, DiLauro succeeded in introducing and passing an eyewitness reform bill at the Rhode Island Statehouse. Even after its passage, he continued to work indefatigably with Rhode Island’s Identification Task Force to issue a report that is now a model for similar reforms in other states. In 2009 and 2010, DiLauro was also credited with lobbying the state legislature to pass legislation that required the mandatory recording of custodial interrogation in their entirely where the maximum penalty was life imprisonment. Unfortunately, the legislation was later vetoed by the state’s governor. Nonetheless, DiLauro did not give up the fight. Most recently in 2011, DiLauro was able to secure passage of legislation extending the life of the eyewitness identification task force created by the General Assembly in 2010 as well as passing similar legislation establishing a stakeholder task force to promulgate written policies in the area of the electronic recording of custodial interrogations.
DiLauro’s fellow state criminal justice reform advocates extolled him for his zealous effort to work with various groups to enact smart criminal justice policies in Rhode Island. NACDL’s State Legislative Affairs Director, Angelyn Frazer, said of DiLauro, “Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ Michael has truly exemplified this throughout his career. For this reason and more he deserves the honor bestowed upon him by his peers as the Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award recipient.”
NACDL’s Immediate Past President Jim E. Lavine called DiLauro “A most deserving choice for the inaugural award.”
DiLauro is a 1977 graduate of Providence College and a 1980 graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law.
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