Tag Archives: DNA testing

An Exoneree’s Perspective on the Quantum and Adequacy of Compensation

Jeffrey Deskovic is not your archetypal exoneree. He holds strong views about the subject of wrongful conviction, and even stronger views on the sufficiency of state compensation for victims of wrongful convictions. In his article entitled – A Critique of Innocence Project Report on Exoneree Compensation ‘Making Up for Lost Time’ – he critiqued some of the recommendations made by the Innocent Project.

His views were in direct response to  the Project’s report on the question of legislating compensation and the reasonableness thereof. See pdf report – http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/Innocence_Project_Compensation_Report.pdf

Jeffrey goes on in his article to make the point that, compensating the innocent must be sue generis. It must take account of each individual’s circumstances; station in life, pain and suffering, education, present and future earnings et al. Read his article herehttp://www.examiner.com/article/a-critique-of-innocence-project-report-on-exoneree-compensation-making-up-for-lost-time

While his criticism does weigh up the issues, and on balance, seem to tilt towards a case by case consideration of each application, it is submitted that, the courts still remain the best fora to determine what is best, or what represents adequate compensation for each victim. No legislation can set the amount of compensation in stone for every given situation. What a Statute does, and can do, is to set a benchmark, albeit a guide for the courts to be guided by in coming to a decision on compensation. The ultimate decision will always boil down to each individual circumstances.

A Suggestion for Virginia: Step Up Efforts to Locate Convicted Persons Excluded by DNA

Last Wednesday, James Moses Glass, 56, was indicted for the 1978 rape of a William & Mary coed. For more than 25 years this crime wrongfully defined Bennett Barbour as a rapist. He served 4-1/2 years in prison, which cost him his marriage, marred his relationship with his daughter, and labeled him a violent felon. Two years ago, as a result of Virginia Governor Mark Warner’s 2005 order to retest all DNA samples obtained from 1973 to 1988, Barbour was excluded as the rapist. The DNA instead linked James Glass to the crime. Glass was in the database due to a 1979 rape conviction in New York. But, if it weren’t for a private attorney’s pro bono efforts, Barbour might never have known that the innocence he has always claimed finally had been proven.

According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch article here 76 felons have been excluded as the source of the DNA evidence in their cases, but as of January of this year, 29 of those still assumed living had not been notified of these results. It seems that Virginia hasn’t been very successful in notifying those who would benefit most from the results (or apparently of notifying the crime victims or of reinvestigating the cases where conviction error is suspected).  Private Continue reading