Exonerees often find that their record haunts them

One of the 8,000 graduating students at Ohio State University to whom President Barack Obama gave the commencement address yesterday had a lot longer journey than most to get to that point. Virginia LeFever’s plans to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing were interrupted in 1990 when she was convicted of killing her husband, greatly because of the novel theory of an expert who lied about his credentials. When LeFever’s conviction was overturned in 2011 and she was released from prison, she started looking for a job and applied to continue her studies at OSU.

Getting into college proved to be easier than getting a job. Although LeFever’s criminal record had been ordered sealed, it still came up in background reports until the source was identified and the records were removed from its database. LeFever also had to overcome difficulties getting her nursing license fully reinstated. Now that she has her degree and a license, LeFever hopes to get a nursing job and start graduate work so she can become a nurse practioner. But it’s taken a two-year struggle and the help of her dedicated attorneys to get to the point that she hopes to be able to get a decent-paying job.

LeFever is not alone. As The New York Times reports here, “sealing or clearing a criminal record after a wrongful conviction is a tangled and expensive process” that many exonerees have difficulty getting through.

3 responses to “Exonerees often find that their record haunts them

  1. Just imagine being convicted wrongfully in 1975 at age 17, spending 10 years imprisoned for a crime you did not commit, finally proving you were mistakenly identified and getting a court release in 1984, then in 1986 receiving a full unconditional pardon and a court order for expungement of all records reference your wrongful imprisonment case, then another court order to expunge the records in 1992 and a 3rd court order in 1998 when the State of Maryland awarded you an additional $50.000 for their failure to expunge the criminal records, then in 2004 those very same criminal records are used to deny you bail and keep you confined for a year before trial on a case which you are found not guilty of by a jury within 15 minutes of their deliberations after a 3 day trial. yet the State of Maryland claimed the records were expunged, not knowing you got letters from State Agencies verifying the conviction still was in their data base…This is what I went thru here in Baltimore Maryland and 2014 my conviction will be 30 years old…I am 55 years old presently and “unemployed” with a BA Degree in Sociology and Certificate in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies

  2. In 1975 I was convicted at age 17 of armed robbery here in Baltimore Maryland, sentenced to 20 years, 10 years of that sentence I served before proving I was not the person whom committed the robbery. I was granted a court release, then in 1986 I was granted a Full Unconditional Pardon from Governor Harry Hughes for the 10 years I spent wrongfully imprisoned, the 1st court order was issued by the Circuit Court Judge that the criminal records were to be expunged, since then there has been 2 additional court orders issued by 2 separate Judges of the Baltimore City Circuit Court and in 1998 the State of Maryland awarded to me the limits ($50,000) for my Complaint and Demand which I filed against them for their non compliance to the court orders.. At this time I really thought this nightmare was over with, but in 2004 I was notified that an arrest warrant was issued for me and I voluntarily surrendered myself to the Baltimore City police because I knew I had not done anything and expected to have this matter resolved, yet when I was taken before the Court Commissioner for the Initial Appearance, I was informed because I had a previous conviction for Armed Robbery dating from 1975 I would not be allowed bail and I was held 1 year before my trial took place, In 2005 I was tried before a jury after a 3 day trial the jury deliberated 15 minutes before finding me not guilty of all charges…Upon my release, I was homeless, my children whom I was custodial parent to were in the State Foster Care System and I struggled to put my life back together, today I reside in public housing with 2 of my children I regained custody of from the State and I am still unemployed despite having a BA Degree in Sociology and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies…I am presently 55 years of age and you can view videos of my story at http://www.YOUTUBE.com This has been going on for close to 30 years now.

  3. Pingback: Post Exoneration: The Rarity of Success after Freedom | Innocence Project of Florida

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