Why do exonerees face special challenges after release from prison?

Numerous challenges await those who were exonerated of crimes. The wrongfully convicted may have difficulty adjusting to life after spending time in prison.

It is an unfortunate fact that many people serve time in prison, despite being innocent of the crimes they are accused of. The Innocence Project claims that most people who are wrongfully convicted and later exonerated by DNA evidence spend at least 13 years in prison before they are freed. Wrongfully convicted prisoners in Wisconsin and elsewhere often face difficult challenges when they are released back into society, especially if they have served lengthy sentences.

How serious is the problem of wrongful conviction? An estimated 2.3 to 5 percent of prisoners across the country have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, according to the Innocence Project. Many who have been cleared by DNA evidence spent more than three decades behind bars, or may have spent significant time on parole before being declared innocent.

Failed Wisconsin bill addressed compensation for wrongfully convicted

What happens to those who are released from prison due to being found innocent? Do they receive any sort of compensation for the years they spent behind bars for drunk driving, theft or other crimes they did not commit? Many states have wrongful conviction compensation statutes that award a monetary amount to exonerees, in addition to other services that may help them get back on their feet. However, according to Wisconsin Public Radio, the Badger State is among the worst in terms of compensating victims of wrongful conviction.

A bill that was introduced earlier this year would have increased the amount of compensation to federal levels, which are $50,000 per year spent in prison with a $1 million cap. Currently, the amount is $5,000 per year in prison, capped at $25,000. Unfortunately for the falsely convicted, the bill died when it reached the Senate.

Challenges can make it difficult to integrate back into society

Compensation is important to the wrongfully convicted after release from prison. It might help in improving job skills, getting an education and finding appropriate housing. Some forms of compensation may account for medical needs, as well. In addition, compensating someone after exoneration recognizes that a mistake was made and attempts to make amends for the time and freedom lost.

Sadly, life is often difficult for exonerees after their release from prison. USA Today points out that they are often unable to get employment or find that their skills are outdated. They may experience social stigma and suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences behind bars. Many lose family and friends in prison, and find themselves in a vastly different world after spending years locked up.

Those who are facing criminal charges, as well as those who are in prison despite their innocence, may benefit from speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Delafield to protect their rights.