DNA has become some of the most powerful evidence to stop murder and other serious, violent crimes in recent years. It has also become a tool with which innocent people have begun to fight the unjust convictions that changed their lives forever.
Even a relatively short incarceration could severely disrupt a person’s life. Post-exoneration compensation could mitigate this damage.
What is exoneration?
Post-conviction relief via DNA evidence or other means could lead to exoneration. The exoneree would then have an opportunity to live as an innocent person again.
However, especially for longer stays in prison, there is the potential for a challenging reintegration into free society. Maryland legislators recognize this with a formal system that could provide compensation for exonerees.
What does the compensation entail?
The main form of compensation would come as money. The amount comes from a formula that takes into account the length of incarceration and the state’s median income. This is a relatively recent update to the law, and people who received less compensation under previous laws might be entitled to the new amounts.
The law also provides for some other possible compensation. It could include:
- College tuition and vocational training
These forms of compensation are not enough to remove the injustice of wrongful incarceration. They do, however, often help exonerees make new lives for themselves.
How do people get post-conviction relief?
There are some technical differences between appeals and post-conviction relief for criminal convictions of murder, manslaughter and sexual crimes. Those for whom spurious allegations led to unjust jail time might have more options than they realize — during and after the relief process.