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Reparations should be made when the justice system imprisons the innocent

Comment 19th August 2010

 

No amount of financial compensation can ever be any consolation for the time stolen from an innocent person's life when they have been falsely accused and wrongfully convicted. A huge amount of money of course will help to re-establish a life; it can pay for somewhere to live outright and it will enable the released prisoner to purchase whatever is needed before finding suitable employment. This monetary compensation is therefore necessary but can in no way make up for the lost and stolen years.

On average in the UK, it takes an innocent person twelve years to overturn a wrongful conviction when imprisoned. What if that innocent person was you? Think about it… that's twelve long years deprived of your freedom for crimes you never committed – a murderer will only get fourteen years at the most nowadays.

During that time you may miss your children's entire childhood, friends and family may abandon or forget you or even worse they may start to disbelieve you. The world will move on without you and you are languishing in jail paying for a crime someone else committed or perhaps one that didn't happen at all. Twelve years battling through legal paperwork to prove your innocence.

Twelve years of being called an offender when you have done nothing wrong and twelve years of being browbeaten into admitting guilt for something you haven't done because the justice system does not like to admit it makes mistakes.

It's a sad but little known fact but it is far easier to get released from prison if you are guilty than if you are innocent. After all a jury has found you guilty and a judge has convicted you. Who's going to believe you now? The prison and probation officials will not hear the pleas of the innocent as they can only abide by the Court's decision so you are well and truly stitched up.

Your only hope is to find a good legal representative who believes in you. If you are mega rich, then money could be your saviour but for the poor, innocent prisoner on legal aid, you can bet your bottom dollar you will be in prison for a very long time.

As an innocent person wrongly convicted, it's as if you have been a God- fearing Christian all your life and have been thrown into Hell by mistake on the day you die, so how can money in the form of compensation ever make reparation for that?

Guilty prisoners know they have been incarcerated for a reason and they have to make amends for the harm they have done to society. They have their debt to pay in years and liberty, but what can an innocent prisoner do other than endeavour to prove that innocence?

The current justice system should be changed so that more help is given to those prisoners who claim they are morally innocent of all they have been accused of. Whilst in prison they should be given every resource available to help them with their case so that it is resolved swiftly and they are not caught up for many years in a system designed for the guilty.

This would be beneficial to all concerned and would perhaps dispense with the need for vast amounts of compensation at the end of a long and unnecessary sentence.

 

Why does this matter?

This idea is important because there are more prisoners who have been wrongfully convicted than the British public care to realise. The plight of these prisoners is virtually unrecognised by the current justice system which will not even allow a prisoner who claims to be innocent an automatic right to appeal against their conviction.

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