Wrongfully convicted in Pennsylvania are offered no compensation

The wrongfully convicted may continue to suffer after their release, but there is no wrongful conviction compensation in Pennsylvania.

Out of all of the people in the United States prison system today, potentially thousands of them are being victimized by a system that was set up to protect the public. Wrongful conviction is a tragic error that has happened to innocent people across the country, including in Pennsylvania.

According to the Innocence Project, there may be more than 20,000 prisoners in the American prison system who were convicted of drug crimes, theft, violent crimes and other things they did not commit. The agency estimates that up to 5 percent of people in prison are innocent of any wrongdoing. How does this happen? A false conviction can occur as a result of numerous factors, including false confessions, faulty forensic evidence, false witness identification and abusive interrogation tactics.

The wrongfully convicted face numerous hardships after leaving prison

Exonerees can have a difficult life ahead of them, states USA Today. They often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety issues, and may lack the job skills to find decent employment and housing. Many face social stigma and judgment even after clearing their names. It can also be difficult to adjust to changes in the world after spending decades behind bars.

Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have statutes that provide some degree of compensation for those who were wrongfully imprisoned. This aid may help exonerees in the following areas:

  • Paying for basic living necessities
  • Assistance in finding acceptable housing
  • Providing for medical care and mental services
  • Helping to obtain higher education or job skills

Compensation for the wrongfully convicted does not bring back the years lost in prison, but it shows exonerees that the state recognizes a mistake was made and that there are attempts to make amends.

Wrongful conviction compensation in Pennsylvania

Unfortunately, states PBS, there is no type of compensation whatsoever for the wrongfully convicted in Pennsylvania. The ongoing trials of a Braddock man who was exonerated by DNA evidence illustrate what often befalls those who are released with no recompense. The man was sent to prison in 1989 for the murder of a McDonald's manager despite claiming his innocence, and he spent 18 years behind bars. He suffers from chronic anxiety, nightmares and a deep fear of the justice system. With no compensation from the state for his years spent in prison, he is forced to get by on a $700 disability check and can only afford to live in a tiny apartment.

Advocates for prisoners' rights argue that being falsely convicted is an inexcusable injustice. If you are being accused of a crime you did not commit, you have the right to defend yourself. It is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after receiving criminal charges.

Keywords: wrongful, conviction, incarceration