Exoneree compensation was approved by the CT legislature in 2008, but the state has just made its first ever compensation payment to Kenneth Ireland who spent 21 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of rape and murder.
Ireland was awarded $6 million on Thursday by the state’s Office of the Claims Commissioner.
See the aol.com story here.
Were it not shocking enough that we continue to wrongly convict people in England and Wales and make it ever harder for them to win their appeal, we are abandoning those individuals who manage to win their freedom, penniless, often homeless, and always damaged. With the recent showing of a compelling TV documentarly that investigates whether there has been a number of health professionals wrongful convicted of murder, concerns are once again being raised about what happens to victims even after they win their freedom. The case of Victor Nealon, wrongfully convicted and released miles from any support (he had to walk to a local journalists house and ask for a bed for the night), is sadly just one recent example. Post-conviction compensation for those wrongly convicted in the UK has always been hard won and almost always pitiful. However, the ‘crackdown’ on what constitues a ‘miscarriage of justice’ now means that almost no-one will receive compensation in the future. Individuals have to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that they did not commit the crime. DNA from another individual on crime exhibits may suffice to have your conviction overturned at the Court of Appeal, but is insufficient to prove you are not the perpetrator and worthy of compensation. See the latest news item here on this shocking development:
Miscarriage of justice victims will find it harder to get compensation, lawyers say
In a perhaps even more sobering tale, Tony Poole, exonerated in 2003 of a murder after years protesting his innocence, is now on trial again for murder. The people who helped him win his freedom have talked about how prison saw Tony brutalised, and hooked on heroin. His release saw him eventually spiral out of control until he was isolated and addicted to hard drugs. This tale should highlight the struggle that continues for exonerees after their release, the very least the government can do is financially compensate these individuals. See Tony Poole’s sad story here…
Tony Poole given little support after release for wrongful murder conviction, it is claimed
Bennie Starks was released from prison in 2006, after serving 20 years for a rape that DNA proved he did not commit. He was fully exonerated in 2013, and was granted a Certificate of Innocence by the court.
Starks is now suing the Waukegan, IL police department and the forensic experts who falsely testified against him. As a consequence of this law suit, the Waukegan police are trying to have Starks’ Certificate of Innocence revoked. Their fear is that the Certificate of Innocence will be a deciding factor in Starks’ civil law suit for compensation.
Dr. C. Michael (Mike) Bowers is a California dentist and enlightened forensic odontologist. He also edits a blog called Forensics in Focus. Dr. Bowers was involved in the exoneration of Bennie Starks, and has posted his comments about this on his blog here.