When a person is wrongfully convicted and later found to be innocent, the reverberations of that mistake are felt throughout the justice system. Wrongful convictions affect innocent individuals who have been mistaken as criminals, their families and friends, and most significantly, their standing in society. It is necessary to compensate those who were wrongly convicted in order to try to correct these societal injustices. In addition to the damage a wrongful conviction can cause the innocent individual, these mistakes are also source of embarrassment for the criminal justice system. Exonerations of wrongfully convicted individuals can lead police officers, attorneys, and judges to revisit their past actions. In some instances, the exoneration of one innocent person who was found to be wrongfully convicted can lead to long-closed cases being reopened and reexamined, potentially leading to the exoneration of others.
Governmental entities and independent groups have taken action to seek justice for those who have been mistakenly criminalized. Some states have enacted wrongful conviction compensation statutes, including New York, New Jersey, California, and Florida. Academic projects and non-profit organizations seek to educate the general public about the high instances of wrongful convictions, and aim to exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted. The Innocence Project, for example, is an organization that is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. Northwestern University houses the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which is largely focused on overturning wrongful convictions and whose members act as advocates for reform within the criminal justice system. Penn State will soon be offering a massive open online course, or MOOC, that would look at the social science behind the wrongful convictions. CNN.com published a table that specifies how much each state pays the wrongfully imprisoned. Interestingly, 24 states provide no compensation at all.
Recently, huge settlements have been reached with several wrongfully convicted people throughout the United States. One of the more infamous cases is the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted in 1989. They were recently exonerated, settled with New York City over the conviction, and are expected to receive $40 million pending final approval. In a similar case, the Chicago Tribune reported that the “Dixmoor Five”, who were wrongfully convicted in 1991 for the rape and murder of a 14-year old girl, are also expected to receive $40 million. Multiple lesser-known wrongful conviction cases have been overturned throughout the country and have also resulted in huge settlements.
RD Legal understands and sympathizes with those plaintiffs who were exonerated of crimes they were wrongfully convicted of. As you rebuild your life, we can help by providing advanced funding for any delayed settlements that have been reached with the state. Our funding option is also available to attorneys who have fees tied to a wrongful conviction case, but their payment is delayed as well.