Colorado considering bill to compensate wrongfully convicted prisoners
It would only be fair for people who have spent years behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit to be compensated for those lost years. Unfortunately, CNN says there is currently no statute in Colorado to repay people for being wrongfully convicted, and consequently wasting many years of their lives in prison. Not only have these innocent people had years taken from them, but they face numerous difficulties after being released from prison.
According to The Innocent Project, people who have been exonerated of a crime and released from prison can have a difficult time adjusting to life. They may lack the career skills to bring in a decent income, as well as not have a place to live or a vehicle to drive. The average person wrongfully convicted spends about 13 years in prison before being cleared, and often his or her criminal record isn’t cleared afterwards. Despite their innocence, wrongfully convicted people can face a lifetime of stigma.
Man barely making ends meet after being cleared of crime
The Denver Post reported on a Colorado man who had spent 16 years behind bars for the rape and murder of a woman in 1994. Later, DNA evidence proved his innocence, but he was offered no compensation for his years in prison, or access to job training or credit. He survives on barely $700 a month from Social Security, as well as donations from the public.
There may be a bill considered in the Colorado Legislature that could provide compensation to wrongfully convicted people for their years in prison, as well as job training, counseling and help with public benefits. Forbes says that the recommended amount of compensation would be a minimum of $50,000 untaxed for each year of wrongful imprisonment, or $100,000 per year for death row inmates, based on the federal Innocence Protection Act of 2004’s standards.
Even with compensation, life after exoneration can be difficult. Adjusting to new technology and trying to find a place in the current job market can be too much for people who have spent many years behind bars. Some exonerated inmates are able to sue for their time lost, but not all are successful.
Contacting an attorney
If you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit, it’s vital to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. An attorney will be your greatest advocate during this difficult time, and will attempt to review your case and use evidence wherever possible to prove your innocence.