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Nov Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE 931 VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 ing scarce and precious time on a further legal odyssey. Our system of justice is among the finest that has ever evolved; however, much of that evolution was the product of lessons learned following shocking realizations that innocent persons had been condemned. Our profession is implicated in these tragedies, although we are redeemed by the heroines and heroes who seek to rectify the errors and by those who strive to prevent them from happening in the first place. No system of justice based on human decision making can be fail-proof, and when the system does fail, we can be redeemed also by striving for a process that provides for immediate subsistence funding for the wrongfully convicted and that at least expedites, if not formalizes, the entire process of seeking full and final compensation. In the United States there are 27 jurisdictions that have enacted compensation statutes; however, those statutes are deficient in that they provide for insufficient monetary compensation and social services, deny compensation to those deemed to have “contributed” to their convictions by falsely confessing or pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit, and may refuse compensation to individuals with unrelated convictions.2 The balance of jurisdictions are similar to ours in that the issue of compensation is either litigated or left to political Dear Sir, Re: An ADR Approach to Compensating the Wrongfully Convicted Serving years of imprisonment for any crime can be psychologically crippling; for an innocent person condemned for a crime they did not commit, it is profoundly devastating. Exonerees are left with PTSD, deep-seated depression and a total loss of faith in the system, and they suffer disabilities in social and life skills that come with long-term institutionalization. Physically, they have lost the prime of their lives. Many friends and family members have passed away, their partners might have moved on and their children have grown up without them, perhaps while believing they were guilty. They have no ability to be competitive in the workplace, having lost opportunities to gain experience and training. Some have never used a cellphone. A person who regains his or her freedom walks out of jail into a world that is foreign, seemingly other-worldly, and faces an immediate crisis of where to live and how to support themselves.1 Our system does not offer any immediate support to these people. While some may eventually be offered an ex gratia payment by the government, others are forced to navigate back through the very system that failed them, again deplet-


Nov Advocate 2017
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