Blog 4 – Carrie-Anne Warner, The Faults in the US Justice System

There are many individuals who are trying to bring justice to the wrongly convicted, such as Bryan Stevenson in Walter McMillian’s case. He successfully established the Equal Justice Initiative whose mission is to free the wrongfully convicted. Similar projects, like the Innocence Project exonerate the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing; and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices (Innocence Project). These projects have excelled in bringing justice to many American citizens; however, they are constantly in conflict with the justice system. Change needs to occur on a systematic level in order to achieve justice for individuals after they have been released from prison. “In 2004, Congress passed the Justice for All Act with bipartisan support. The law guarantees individuals exonerated of federal crimes $50,000 for every year spent in prison and $100,000 for every year spent on death row” (Rodd). The governments compensation seems to be the easiest way to keep them out of trouble, and to make sure those who were wrongfully convicted are satisfied enough that they don’t pursue any more action against the state. However, each state differs on their bills on exoneration which can make it difficult for individuals to get the compensation they need. Kansas does not give compensation for the exonerated. One would need to file a lawsuit in order to get compensation. A lawsuit is time-consuming and winning isn’t a guarantee (Rodd). There are different standards with each state being a little more difficult than the others. Ames Grawert said “Even when someone is found innocent, it is not always easy to put your life back together after years in prison. The best way to correct wrongful convictions is to build a system that prevents them altogether” (Grawert). The government needs to create an overruling law that creates a fair and equal standard that allows compensation for all who have been exonerated. They should not have to face the consequences for someone else’s wrong doing.

 

Grawert, Ames. “Wrongful Convictions.” Brennan Center for Justice, 3 Mar. 2020, www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/wrongful-convictions.

Rodd, Scott. “What Do States Owe People Who Are Wrongfully Convicted?” The Pew Charitable Trusts, 14 Mar. 2017, www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2017/03/14/what-do-states-owe-people-who-are-wrongfully-convicted.

  4 comments for “Blog 4 – Carrie-Anne Warner, The Faults in the US Justice System

  1. sb2nj
    April 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post as I am highly interested in criminal justice and the legal system in general. I am curious what your thoughts are as to what extent monetary compensation can right these blatant wrongs. Your comment “The governments compensation seems to be the easiest way to keep them out of trouble, and to make sure those who were wrongfully convicted are satisfied enough that they don’t pursue any more action against the state” made me think that it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to liken this compensation to ‘hush money.’ Having said that, I hardly think that every person who is wrongfully imprisoned should have the extra burden of making a moral position by refusing this settlement money. I am very curious now as to the grounds upon which some states, like Kansas, refuse to make settlement payments.

  2. ep6na
    April 18, 2020 at 10:48 pm

    Really enjoyed your post. This gets me thinking about how just compensation is measured. Prison time can be traumatizing, especially if solitary confinement is involved. I would expect that many wrongly convicted experience the consequences of this trauma as do many ex convicts when they try to re enter society. Do you have any thoughts on turning prisons into more spaces of rehabilitation instead of punitive institutions?

  3. Sanjida sba4eh
    April 19, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Your post reminds me of the reality that many Americans are forced to deal with. The broken justice system is clear. Even after being announced innocent can leave detrimental effects on your life. It can affect your work life, family life, mental health, and more. Your post reminds me of the Netflix Film “When They See Us.” It was a fantastic film that told the story about five young boys that were charged with a crime they did not commit. Along with the broken system, comes years and years of systemic racism. That is important to point out when discussing the legal system in general.

  4. Tucker Finkelston
    April 26, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I really liked reading your blog post, as the American Justice system has always been a topic that interests me very much. it seems as though compensation for the wrongly convicted ought to be a federal law rather than a matter that is decided on by each state individually. Although I wonder if any sort of compensation will ever be enough to satisfy those who have been wrongly convicted of a crime. I feel like if that were me, money would help but nothing could erase the time spent in jail that was not deserved. Do you believe anything can truly be done to properly compensate the wrongly convicted?
    Really great blog post!

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