The Innocence Project has drawn attention to the process of exoneration,
which occurs when a person is wrongfully convicted for a
crime that he or she did not commit. When states put the wrong person in prison,
that person can sue. These lawsuits are intended to help make things right,
to compensate the person in an attempt to restore the individual to a
position that he or she would likely be in had that person not been wrongfully
A lawsuit against the state can be costly, and some states may attempt
to avoid high settlements by offering payment outright. A recent report
by NPR addressed this issue, noting 17 states offer a fixed amount of
compensation to offset each year a person was wrongfully imprisoned, 12
states along with the District of Columbia examine each case before awarding
damages on a case by case basis and 21 states offer no compensation. California
falls within the first group, offering a set amount of money for each
year of prison time served.
In some cases, in order for those who were wrongfully convicted to receive
this payment they must first forfeit the right to move forward with any
additional lawsuits. Ultimately, this could save the state money.
The issue of the cost of exoneration brings attention to the fact that
our court system continues to put the innocent in prison for crimes they
did not commit. As a result, even the innocent should take criminal charges
seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with a crime, contact an experienced
criminal defense attorney. This legal professional will review your case
and help build a defense to better ensure your legal rights are protected.
Source: NPR, "
When Innocent People Go To Prison, States Pay," Gabrielle Emanuel, June 16, 2014