As our knowledge of the criminal system grows (and the inadequacies of it become more apparent) we are learning of the terrible injustices some people have endured, not just here in New York, but all across the country. The Innocence Project has been at the forefront of identifying people who may have been imprisoned or convicted under wrongful circumstances. Our ability to analyze old cases and use DNA evidence nowadays is significantly more effective and accurate than it was even 20 years ago.
Thus, we are finding more and more people who have spent decades behind bars when they really shouldn’t have been subjected to such punishment. With this movement gaining steams, some states are looking to change their laws regarding compensation for wrongfully convicted people.
For example, the state of Wisconsin is considering a compensation bump for wrongfully convicted people — and given that Wisconsin has the lowest compensation structure of any state that permits compensation for wrongful convictions, it seems a necessary upgrade.
The state of New York has a law in place that allows a court that reviews a wrongful conviction (if the person in question files an appeal within two years of his or her release) to receive appropriate compensation as determined by the court.
These wrongful convictions are showing up in all sorts of criminal cases; but sex crimes are of particular import. Many older sex crime cases may not have had the sophisticated DNA evidence processes we have now, resulting in a wrongful conviction.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Bill seeks to right wrong against wrongly convicted,” Ashley Luthern, Sept. 30, 2013