Wrongful convictions continue to get attention and the issue is finally making headway as more cases come to light. Additionally, there has been an increase of those willing to step up and advocate for the innocently incarcerated to create ways to clean up the criminal justice system.
Furthermore, we are learning about exonerees and their experiences, but we also must examine the effect that just one wrongful conviction has on a family and community.
Every family member of a person wrongfully convicted is put in distress. Had it not been for the dogged pursuit of his mother, Jonathan Fleming’s case may not have reached us at Management Resources, and we would not have had the opportunity to uncover evidence leading to his exoneration.
Children left behind without a parent face a life without their presence and guidance. They miss the opportunity to receive love and direction from a parent who is incarcerated.
Extended family, friends, and entire communities are forever changed by the experience of a wrongful conviction through lost contact and opportunity. Especially concerning are the lost contributions the person may have made to society were they not wrongfully convicted.
Maintaining a relationship with a spouse or significant other who is incarcerated is stressful at best. Oftentimes relationships cannot withstand the separation, no matter how strong the relationship was before the conviction, the strain is just too much.
“As we’ve seen in several wrongful conviction cases, an innocent person may spend 20+ years behind bars before a review of evidence results in the re-opening of the case, an investigation is conducted and the person is exonerated. One day behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit is too many.”
There is no way to fully compensate a person for time out of their life, lost possibilities and lost relationships. When they are finally free, there is little in the way of resources available to help the transition back into a society which has dramatically changed. A person being let out of prison on parole has more resources available to assist them than someone who is exonerated.
Monetary settlements frequently take time to receive; in the meantime, the exoneree is left with insignificant funds and skills to return to the workforce. And, they may return to the outside world homeless were it not for the generosity of family and friends.
Reunification with family can also be awkward when one has been out of the circle for so long, leading to further difficulty maintaining those relationships.
On the other side of the coin is the victim of the crime. Thinking the right person was convicted, they now realize that the person who actually committed the crime has not been brought to justice. They have not received a resolution to the case, and, once again, must pursue justice through the system, re-living the crime and all the negative ramifications.
“The ripple effect of wrongful conviction spreads far and wide into the lives of innocent bystanders, victims, and the legal system.”
Since the experience with the Jonathan Fleming case, we are committed to working towards change within the criminal justice system that continues to allow blatant mistakes to be made. Management Resources realizes that advocating for the wrongfully convicted, as well as the true victims, is the first step in making change happen.
As more cases come to the forefront we, along with the legal teams we work with, are learning more and more about the long-term effects of wrongful convictions. Not only are there physical changes from being incarcerated, psychological changes occur as well and must be addressed for the exoneree to make a successful transition and resume their lives.
To think that only one person, the wrongfully convicted, is affected is far from the truth, and as long as we allow it to happen we all are subjected to the consequences.
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey, members of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements.Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org