Statement on Exoneree Rights
STATEMENT OF THE INNOCENCE NETWORK CONCERNING EXONEREE RIGHTS
The Innocence Network is an organization of member projects whose fundamental missions are to do the following:
- Provide investigative services and legal representation to individuals who have been convicted of crimes for which they are factually innocent; and
- Redress the underlying causes of wrongful convictions and reform the criminal justice system to prevent such convictions from occurring.
After an innocent person is exonerated, he or she begins a period of transition that often requires extensive assistance and resources. At first, the issues exonerees face mainly relate to basic life functions: where they will find food and shelter, how they will get from place to place, and where they can obtain any necessary medical or psychological care. Later issues are generally more forward-looking, such as where to acquire the skills training to reenter the work force, how to acquire and sustain a job and home, and, in some cases, how to manage finances. In most cases, assistance and resources for responding to these issues are either unavailable to exonerees or extremely difficult to access. As advocates for exonerees, we recognize the great need to make their transition easier by enhancing the availability of and access to the necessary assistance and resources. We are committed to that effort and believe exonerees should have the right to the following resources and services upon their release from prison, as needed or desired by the exoneree. It is important to note that the listed items are based on the exigencies, priorities, and concerns of exonerees in the United States. The Network understands that the list is likely different, even quite different, for exonerees from the home countries of the Network’s international member organizations – and from other countries, in which there is no member organization. International organizations and individuals are therefore encouraged to review the list and modify it accordingly.
- Access to immediate and ongoing financial assistance for all basic needs, including, but not limited to, any public subsidy that already exists such as food stamps, public cash assistance programs, and SSI.
- Access to free medical, dental, mental health and psychiatric care, including free medical insurance such as Medicaid.
- Housing including but not limited to any public benefit such as Section 8.
- Assistance with any and all areas of community and family reunification/reentry, including educational and vocational training and assistance.
- Access to professional client-centered case management by a professional trained in and sensitive to the issues related to wrongful incarceration and these entitlements.
- Prompt and effective record expungement, with the accompanying transfer to the exoneree of all medical and other records maintained by the department of corrections that would be helpful to the exoneree in making the transition and acquiring continuing care.
- A formal, official apology from the State or other relevant entity regarding the wrongful incarceration.
- Access to free legal assistance for legal issues that arose from the wrongful incarceration, including, but not limited to, back child support payments and student loans.
- Monetary compensation at least at the established U.S. federal standard, which is currently $50,000.00 per year of wrongful incarceration regardless of any prior or future convictions.