Exoneree Critiques Innocence Project’s Compensation Report…

From the VeritasInitiate.org:

Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison before being exonerated in 2006, wrote an article for the Examiner.com critiquing the New York-based Innocence Project’s recent report “Making Up for Lost Time: What the Wrongfully Convicted Endure and How to Provide Fair Compensation.”

The report recommends replacing civil lawsuits with compensation statutes that give exonerees $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration. The report reasons “The financial awards exonerees receive through lawsuits often surpass those available through state compensation statutes. However, lawsuits are also more expensive, and part of the award money will be spent on litigation fees. In addition, lawsuits are more time-consuming and take longer to finalize. After years of fighting to prove their innocence, exonerees need a safety net, not another long legal battle. Winning a lawsuit can’t help exonerees find jobs, counseling, medical care, educational aid and other essentials they need for a successful transition.” The report also recommends immediate assistance with transportation, education, job training and physical and mental health services.

While Deskovic agrees with the report’s recommendations for services, he disagrees with the Innocence Project’s compensation statute proposal. He claims that $50,000 per year is an inadequate amount to make up for lost wages, pain and suffering, and injustice. Deskovic urges state legislatures to forgo implementing the Innocence Project’s model compensation law and instead create a statute that requires the state to pay the costs of a compensation lawsuit if they are found to be liable.

He says “In terms of exonerees not ‘needing another long legal battle’, the answer is to try to quicken the time needed to litigate the compensation case, and providing immediate reintegrative services; not giving the exoneree an inadequate amount of money that does not take into account the above mentioned factors in the name of speed.”

Read his full article here.



2 responses to “Exoneree Critiques Innocence Project’s Compensation Report…

  1. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    Thank you Mark , for the excellent article .

    Exonoree Deskovic’s article makes many fine points .

    A variation of his proallowedposal would be similar to a worker’s compensation claim .

    When exonerated , provide an automatic and immediate flat rate payment of $ X per day for all days incarcerated .

    Allow that amount to be deducted from gross civil award on a successful lawsuit .

    If successful , the state would pay the award minus the flat rate plus reasonable attorney fees allowed by the court and incidental litigation fees , e,g, , reporter fees for depositions ,etc.

    2012.07.28.T1619 EDT
    Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

  2. As the previous writer notes, exonerees should receive immediate “salaries,” which would be deducted from the final award or settlement. But they also need immediate health insurance, often need health services, help finding a place to live, and job training. I read that prisons do not give training suitable for employment. In one instance, training as a plumber was obsolete by today’s standards. Some exonerees may want to further their education.

    The question to ask is: How do we help this person enter an alien world? The help sometimes given by religious organizations to emigres from places like Dafur, Sudan, or Russia–complete help, including furniture for an apartment–is what these people need immediately.

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