The state’s duty to help exonerees rebuild their lives



22 states

have laws compensating the wrongfully convicted upon their release, and many of those laws are outdated and woefully inadequate. A major study

published last week by the New York Times

surveyed more than 130 people exonerated by DNA evidence and found that dozens had met with severe struggles on their reentry to society. An article in the Times’ Week in Review asks where the state’s duty lies in helping exonerees get back on their feet.

“One of the biggest challenges is that once an innocent person comes out of prison, they are not equipped with the tools to reintegrate into society, and that’s something that money alone can’t solve,” said Representative Donald M. Payne, a New Jersey Democrat who introduced a bill to set aside $1.25 million a year for programs for exonerated prisoners.

Of the states with compensation laws, only three — Massachusetts, Louisiana and Vermont — provide for the costs of medical and psychological care.

… “Some people feel, ‘All right, it’s over now. You’re out, you’re free, so what are you complaining about? What’s the problem?’ ” said Darryl Hunt, exonerated in North Carolina after serving 18 years for murder.

“The problem is that we’re free physically,” he said. “But mentally, we’re still living the nightmare every day.”

Read the full story here

. (New York Times Week in Review, 12/2/07)

The Innocence Project exoneree fund supports exonerated Innocence Project clients as they rebuild their lives.

Donate to the fund now


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