Wrongful conviction turns life into a nightmare for many innocent people
Nobody should have to serve time for a crime they didn’t commit, but many innocent people are convicted across the U.S.
Most people believe that when a person is convicted of a crime in New Jersey, he or she is guilty and deserves the prison sentence that was dealt out. Unfortunately for many people across the country, their convictions were not only unfair but altogether unwarranted. An untold number of people have been sentenced to prison for crimes they did not commit. Sadly, not only have their lives been turned upside down but their loved ones have been affected as well.
Innocent people who are sent to prison are victimized by the very system put into place to protect them. There have been programs implemented in many states, but not all, which protect and compensate people who were exonerated of their crimes. The Innocence Project says that even more states are currently in the process of examining their laws regarding wrongfully convicted prisoners. New Jersey is one of the states that offers some form of compensation to wrongfully imprisoned people. According to CNN, after exoneration a person may receive $20,000, or twice the amount of his or her income the year before incarceration for each year of imprisonment, whichever amount is greater. However, the person may not receive compensation if he or she falsely confessed or pled guilty to the crime, despite being proven innocent later.
Lowering Wrongful Conviction Cases in New Jersey
In 2011, state lawmakers revised the laws regarding how trial evidence is considered, to reduce the chances of wrongful convictions based on witness testimony. A few of the points included the following:
- Strengthening and clarifying suspect lineup procedures
- Considering whether the victim was under a great deal of stress while speaking to police
- Considering how much time the witness had to see the event occur
- Determining if the victim’s age or influence of alcohol or drugs may have affected his or her story
- Considering the length of time between the crime and identifying the suspect
These changes were inspired after a man wrongfully served 11 years for weapons possession and reckless manslaughter, and appealed the photo lineup procedure when police failed to follow the state’s guidelines.
The Wrongfully Imprisoned Face Heartbreaking Challenges
Those who serve time in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, ranging from theft to rape or murder, face a variety of challenges both in prison and out in the real world after their release. They often endure violence and seclusion in prison and are deprived time with their loved ones. The world is usually a different and confusing place after their release. Often, they don’t have the job skills to make a living after exoneration. They also face enduring hardships such as the loss of their reputation, even after having been proven innocent.
Getting Help From an Attorney
Nobody should have to serve time in prison for a crime he or she did not commit. If you’ve been accused of a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and reputation.