Wrongful Convictions


Prison life and the associated loss of freedom are not only worsened by the feelings of what might have been, but also for wrongful conviction. Since an individual is separated and prevented from meeting his family and friends, such a nightmare does not end upon release. Even though one may be innocent, it is impossible to clear one’s name as the victim will have no money, housing, transportation and even health insurance. As such, states have a responsibility of ensuring that such victims of wrongful conviction are exposed to activities or actions that will ensure a restoration of the previous life. Although states make efforts to compensate them, the step is not universal and some states offer amounts of money that are insignificant. Therefore, even though their innocence has been proven, it will still be extremely difficult to reenter the society as if nothing happened. Hence, inadequate compensation only tends to add insult to the injury (Mandery et al. 2013, p. 554).

Overview of the Existing Florida Victim Compensation Bill

The existing Florida Victim Compensation Bill requires that the victim be given $ 50, 000 annually. The maximum amount that each person should receive annually is $ 2 million. If the victim had recently been released from serving another felony conviction, the proof of innocence will not cover these previous years. Compensation will only be offered for the years served due to the wrongful conviction. In addition to the monetary compensation. The victim will be offered 120 hours of free tuition at an institution of their choice which may be the career center, community college or even state university. The fines or costs incurred during the period of the sentence will be fully reimbursed to the victim once innocence is proven. Finally, for one to qualify for this compensation, he or she must not have a history of felony convictions.

The Problem That the Policy Aims To Address

This policy seeks to address the problem that these victims of wrongful convictions experience when trying to reenter the society and pick up their lives from where they left off (Mandery et al. 2013, p. 554). This is despite the fact that they have already proven their innocence and are released on this basis. The victims of wrongful conviction will never have a normal life even when they manage to prove their innocence. First of all, their name is already tainted and associated with the negative actions which he or she was wrongfully accused of. It is quite difficult to clear and remake a tainted name. Most people will always have doubts, which is why they will always prefer to keep a distance leaving the victims feeling discriminated against. This may cause them to start committing minor crimes as they feel like they have nothing to protect (Norris, Twill & Kim 2011, p. 205).

Second, the time one spends in a correctional facility for the wrong reasons will never be recovered. Most of the personal projects that the victim of wrongful conviction was working on will have already been destroyed. It is easy to assume that such a person will face pity and have it easy in the society due to sympathy. This is rarely the case as the victim has already been exposed to the prison environment, hence the reputation is already ruined (Mandery et al. 2013, p. 555). Few companies will be willing to hire such an individual who has a history of spending time in a correctional institution.

By addressing the above mentioned problem, this policy seeks to enhance positive relationships between a wrongfully convicted individual and the rest of the society (Reyes 2016, n.p). This may be achieved by how the individual is offered opportunities to pursue their career choices by being enrolled in learning institutions. This gives them a chance of mingling with the other members of the society. The financial support offered is meant to act as a foundation for starting over. A lot is lost when incarcerated, especially when it is for the wrong reasons. A victim may use the compensation to start businesses or even repair projects that were previously up and running. Finally, this policy ensures public benefits as conflicts will be avoided when private institutions are forced to hire these individuals. The rest of the public will be given an opportunity of slowly accepting this member of the society back in.

The Social, Political, and Criminal Justice Implications of the Policy

This policy prevents against the discrimination of the individuals who have been wrongfully convicted. It offers a positive way of reintegrating them back in the society by ensuring that effective communication is made to exonerate the victim. If handled the wrong way, the victim may indeed turn into a criminal as a way of reacting to the wrong that was done to him or her (Carter 2016, n.p). Although this may not be enough to take things back to how they were initially, it is a step in the right direction. In addition, this policy ensures that anyone who qualifies for compensation is not denied (Mandery et al. 2013, p. 562). This is because it has become widespread that each and every individual needs to be repaid for the loss they have experienced. Unfortunately, there is an obstacle as it is impossible to tell right amount of compensation considering the fact that no specific percentage is included in the policy (Merrefield 2009, n.p).  Finally, this policy ensures that the prosecutors will try to avoid the accusation of innocent individuals. Instead, they will feel prompted to conduct thorough research before falsely accusing anyone (Toth 2013, p. 41).

Alternative Solutions

            Since reintegration into the society can be quite a challenge, the government may choose to resettle the victim in a different area rather than take them back to their previous neighborhood. Communication to exonerate will still take place but the individual will have a chance of slowly getting comfortable in an area where he or she is not widely known. The basic needs should also be catered for at least two years, in addition to the monetary compensation to ensure that the person becomes financially stable.

My Decision

I would approve of this measure as it will also act as protection for the victim. Being reintegrated into the same community tends to stress the victim even more especially when they start to be discriminated against for a mistake they did not even commit.