For some exonerees, the “sentence goes on”


An article on the front page of today’s Washington Post explores the struggles endured by people cleared of convictions and released from prison but not officially exonerated for years, if ever. At least a dozen people in Illinois have been exonerated by evidence proving their innocence but have not received an official pardon from the governor’s office. Illinois is one of 23 states with a compensation statute, but a pardon is required before compensation can be paid. One woman – Tabitha Pollock – served six years in prison before her conviction was overturned. She applied for a pardon in 2002 and hasn’t heard anything.

When the authorities do not certify innocence, "in effect, the sentence just goes on," said Stephen Saloom, policy director of the Innocence Project. Noting that legislators are recognizing "the lingering problems" of the exonerated after their release.

"A recent trend is not only to compensate at a monetary value per year incarcerated, but also to provide immediate services upon release," said Saloom, who said the project's clients spent an average of 11 years in prison. Advocates say the exonerated need help making the transition back into society, especially finding a job.

It's not enough to let the person out of prison," Saloom said.

Read the full article here

. (Washington Post, 04/28/2008)

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