You may have heard the saying that the law isn’t perfect or that wrongful convictions are inevitable in a system where justice usually gets served. But there is no excuse for imprisoning people on faulty evidence. If you or a loved one was wrongfully convicted, you already know that the criminal justice system needs repairing. Though you cannot calculate the real cost of lost years to your life, you deserve compensation to begin that life again.
A flawed justice system
Many factors can contribute to a wrongful conviction case, but here are three common reasons:
- False confession: A suspect could be coerced into a false confession or decide that falsely confessing to a crime is going to make things easier for them. The number of false confessions depicted in popular documentaries, podcasts, and historical records demonstrate how common this is.
- Eyewitness error: Eyewitness testimony is the number one source of wrongful convictions in the US. Eyewitnesses may identify someone who only looks like a suspect or misidentify a person entirely due to the inaccuracy of memory, especially in stressful situations. A witness’s statement is similar to other forensic evidence. It has to be handled carefully and by a conscientious expert.
- Debunked science: Many forensic techniques have been used prolifically without real scientific verification. Some assessments are so variable as to be wholly unreliable. In some cases, ‘experts’ have testified without any scientific basis for their findings, while others have produced false testimonies out of eagerness to accept lucrative consulting fees.
Pursuing a better future
If your conviction came from any of these forms of evidence or others, you might be eligible to receive compensation under Michigan’s wrongful imprisonment compensation law. Those who are exonerated (and meet other criteria) may be entitled to $50,000 per year spent in prison. In 2019, a Michigan man received a judgment of $1.3 million from the state for a wrongful murder and arson convictions.
You can’t get those years of your life back, but you might be able to make your future a more hopeful one.