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.