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How should we pay back exonerated prisoners?

FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
edited February 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
So I was reading the newspaper this morning, and there was an interesting article about a feller who has been in prison for the past 27 years here in Richmond, VA for a series of serial rapes he totally didn't commit.

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/local-news/2011/feb/02/prosecutors-back-exoneration-defendant-1984-rapes-ar-814449/

Reading this, it's pretty clear the dude is gonna be freed sometime soon. It's abundantly clear he was misidentified.

This makes me wonder

How can we compensate people like this? Do we have an obligation to? Do we give them anything? I have no idea. It seems to me, though, like someone falsely imprisoned by the state for 27 years is totally entitled to some compensation.

What do you butts think?

Post edited by Fandyien on
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Comments

  • taoist drunktaoist drunk Registered User
    edited February 2011
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I'd say if there is any evidence of prosecutorial misconduct or police misconduct, then definitely. Otherwise... uh... maybe?

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  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited February 2011
    He should be entitled to the total of the salary he would have earned in the real world, adjusted for inflation, in a lump sum. I would also say since the government is the one who fucked him over, he should get that lump sum tax free and clear.

    This is the barest minimum that he deserves.

  • OceaniaxOceaniax Registered User
    edited February 2011
    I've always thought so. It's not like you can ever give him back his life or lost opportunities, but I think a lifetime subsidy (varying depending on the duration of incarceration) is in order to help bridge the gap between what that person's potential income could have been without incarceration and what his current income level is.

    Also providing comp'd education & life coaching opportunities seems necessary.

  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Mmmm, somebody being falsely in prison is not necessary the justice system's fault or the states fault. This case specifically doesn't seem to be a prosecution fuck up.
    From the few sentences in that article, the trial used the best methods they had at the time and the victims identified him, really not much a judge or jury could do.
    Also,
    If Haynesworth is not innocent, then two serial rapists who crossed racial lines — in nine out of 10 rapes the victim and perpetrator are of the same race — would have been at work in the same part of town at the same time. Experts and Haynesworth’s lawyers say that’s an unlikely possibility.

    This makes me die on the inside.

  • OceaniaxOceaniax Registered User
    edited February 2011
    zeeny wrote: »
    Mmmm, somebody being falsely in prison is not necessary the justice system's fault or the states fault. This case specifically doesn't seem to be a prosecution fuck up.
    From the few sentences in that article, the trial used the best methods they had at the time and the victims identified him, really not much a judge or jury could do.
    Also,

    They may have had good reason to accuse him, but at the end of the day we still have an innocent person whos life has been ruined. Society as a whole probably does have an obligation to help get that person back on their feet.

  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Oceaniax wrote: »
    zeeny wrote: »
    Mmmm, somebody being falsely in prison is not necessary the justice system's fault or the states fault. This case specifically doesn't seem to be a prosecution fuck up.
    From the few sentences in that article, the trial used the best methods they had at the time and the victims identified him, really not much a judge or jury could do.
    Also,

    They may have had good reason to accuse him, but at the end of the day we still have an innocent person whos life has been ruined. Society as a whole probably does have an obligation to help get that person back on their feet.

    Society has an obligation to help any person who has been reformed back on their feet. I got the impression that the OP is asking about much more than that.

  • SpeakerSpeaker Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

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  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited February 2011
    Oceaniax wrote: »
    zeeny wrote: »
    Mmmm, somebody being falsely in prison is not necessary the justice system's fault or the states fault. This case specifically doesn't seem to be a prosecution fuck up.
    From the few sentences in that article, the trial used the best methods they had at the time and the victims identified him, really not much a judge or jury could do.
    Also,

    They may have had good reason to accuse him, but at the end of the day we still have an innocent person whos life has been ruined. Society as a whole probably does have an obligation to help get that person back on their feet.

    Absolutely.

    you can't take 27 years of someone's life away for the wrong reason and just say "oops, our bad."

    chances are, he is probably a broken person at this point, as spending 27 years in a prison will change you. He needs free and mandated rehabilitation, coupled with a means to assure he is financially secure.

  • ChillyWillyChillyWilly Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Regardless of who's fault it is that the person was in jail, something is owed to the person who was wronged.

    Especially in cases like this where the person has been kept under lock and key for decades. Even if they could find a job, there's no way they would have even a basic grasp on the technological advances that have happened since they've been out of the real world. Even simple jobs like customer service, low level bookkeeping, etc. are going to be basically impossible for people like this without some pretty significant help, unless I'm completely misjudging how much a person can learn in jail.

    I do like syndalis' idea, though. A fuckton of monetary compensation to start off with. Let's move on from there.

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    I'd say people who pointed at him and said under oath "Yeah, that's the mother fucker." may be in an awkward situation too, victims or not.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah I think so.

    I think we should give them what their salary was when jailed, accounting for inflation, and maybe add 10% for bonuses, and also maybe another 25% of that sum for "wrongful accusation pain and suffering."

    Maybe more.

  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Regardless of the error by which they were convicted, compensation is warranted. Whether it was misconduct, malicious intent, incompetence or an honest mistake should determine whether or not someone is found liable, not how the wrongfully convicted is treated. The fact that they were wrongfully convicted alone is grounds for generous compensation.

    How do we compensate them?
    syndalis wrote: »
    He should be entitled to the total of the salary he would have earned in the real world, adjusted for inflation, in a lump sum. I would also say since the government is the one who fucked him over, he should get that lump sum tax free and clear.

    This is the barest minimum that he deserves.

    This is really the best we can do, and we should do it every time. The cost is very high, but we unequivocally owe them.

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  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    And the victims who identified him incorrectly.

  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited February 2011
    I think a reprosentative from the state should beg him for forgiveness. Starting with the attorney who tried him. Depending on their testimoney maybe any experts employed by the state who helped convict him (if they said something like "he definently did it"). And maybe the cops involved.

    Edit: Beat by speaker.

  • FandyienFandyien But Otto, what about us? Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    zeeny wrote: »
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    I'd say people who pointed at him and said under oath "Yeah, that's the mother fucker." may be in an awkward situation too, victims or not.

    That's a tough one

    I mean, dragging rape victims through the mud doesn't really help anyone, though I understand the sentiment. Shucks, the guy even says he doesn't blame them for their misidentification.

    I sorta do, though

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Fandyien wrote: »
    zeeny wrote: »
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    I'd say people who pointed at him and said under oath "Yeah, that's the mother fucker." may be in an awkward situation too, victims or not.

    That's a tough one

    I mean, dragging rape victims through the mud doesn't really help anyone, though I understand the sentiment. Shucks, the guy even says he doesn't blame them for their misidentification.

    I sorta do, though

    It's just humane to at least apologize to the guy, victim or not. They should be initiating on it even if it's not mandatory.

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    And the victims who identified him incorrectly.
    I'm not sure how you could legally force a witness in a trial to apologize for what they believed was truthful testimony. I don't even think we should, even if we could legally do so.

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  • OceaniaxOceaniax Registered User
    edited February 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    Yeah I think so.

    I think we should give them what their salary was when jailed, accounting for inflation, and maybe add 10% for bonuses, and also maybe another 25% of that sum for "wrongful accusation pain and suffering."

    Maybe more.

    It's difficult to make it so cut & dry unfortunately. What if the person was a student making nothing at the time? What if they were homeless with no future prospects but with the desire to better themselves? If we were inclined to give monetary compensation in this scenario are we as a society going to look at a homeless man that had been trying to turn his life around and say "You wouldn't have amounted to anything, we don't owe you a monetary sum"?.

  • ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Just goes to show that maybe we shouldn't try to make life as horrible as possible for prisoners.
    If life in prison was pretty much acceptable and just a removal of your freedom in order to ensure the safety of the rest of society then this man could have earned money while in prison and at least lived a somewhat comfortable life.

    He should in any event be entitled to a lot of money.

    Also from the article:
    “There was never a doubt in my mind. I remember the feeling the first time I saw him in person, in court. The emotions that came over me were so strong. I knew he was the person,” said the now 47-year-old woman raped at knifepoint in that attack.

    She now realizes she was wrong. “I hope that… he will be released soon. We cannot erase the past, but we can learn from it and there is so much to be learned from this experience,” she said Tuesday.

    This is why witnesses are as a rule unreliable as hell. The moment research show just how unreliable testimonies like this are they should have gone through every single case over the last couple of decades and retrial any prisoner that had been imprisoned purely on witness testimonies.

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited February 2011
    Oceaniax wrote: »
    bowen wrote: »
    Yeah I think so.

    I think we should give them what their salary was when jailed, accounting for inflation, and maybe add 10% for bonuses, and also maybe another 25% of that sum for "wrongful accusation pain and suffering."

    Maybe more.

    It's difficult to make it so cut & dry unfortunately. What if the person was a student making nothing at the time? What if they were homeless with no future prospects but with the desire to better themselves? If we were inclined to give monetary compensation in this scenario are we as a society going to look at a homeless man that had been trying to turn his life around and say "You wouldn't have amounted to anything, we don't owe you a monetary sum"?.

    In such circumstances where the person is below the average income line you allot the national average income for a single earner, adjusted for inflation.

  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    And the victims who identified him incorrectly.
    I'm not sure how you could legally force a witness in a trial to apologize for what they believed was truthful testimony. I don't even think we should, even if we could legally do so.

    If they have even a shred of decency they will want to apologize.

  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Money. Society owes him a lot of money.

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Speaker wrote: »
    After watching the ridiculous excercise of defendants who are found guilty having part of their sentence be to write a letter of apology, I would like to see at least a required letter of apology from the police chief, prosecuting attorney and judge.

    And the victims who identified him incorrectly.
    I'm not sure how you could legally force a witness in a trial to apologize for what they believed was truthful testimony. I don't even think we should, even if we could legally do so.

    There are no consequences for answering in a positive way on a question asking you to confirm certainty under oath as long as you can claim you honestly believed so at the time?

    Edit: If that is so, I hope there are some very clear instructions to the jury on what reasonable doubt is, because seriously.

  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited February 2011
    I think we'd have to be careful with just paying the wrongfully convicted. It would be awful if someone could draw up a graph and say "wellllll you were probably going to make X amount during your time in jail, so we'll give you that plus interest and penalties."

    It becomes too close to just a financial transaction when you're dealing with someone's life.

    Someone who was jailed for 27 years (more than half his life) for multiple rapes... if he asked for multiple resignations of the officials who were responsible, I'd think that'd be appropriate. I can think of lots of things that would be more than fair. But since 27 years of prison was imposed on him, I think it's his turn to impose something on a society that violated him so greatly.

    So begging for forgiveness would be a start.

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    He was 18 and living with his parents when he was put in jail. His salary at that time was likely $0.

    There has to be some other way to figure it out.

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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    adytum wrote: »
    He was 18 and living with his parents when he was put in jail. His salary at that time was likely $0.

    There has to be some other way to figure it out.

    ...but we'll adjust for inflation!

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited February 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    I think we'd have to be careful with just paying the wrongfully convicted. It would be awful if someone could draw up a graph and say "wellllll you were probably going to make X amount during your time in jail, so we'll give you that plus interest and penalties."

    It becomes too close to just a financial transaction when you're dealing with someone's life.

    Someone who was jailed for 27 years (more than half his life) for multiple rapes... if he asked for multiple resignations of the officials who were responsible, I'd think that'd be appropriate. I can think of lots of things that would be more than fair. But since 27 years of prison was imposed on him, I think it's his turn to impose something on a society that violated him so greatly.

    So begging for forgiveness would be a start.

    Paying them is the fairest path. Chances are the officials from 27 years ago are no longer in those posts. The judge and prosecutor, unless they fudged evidence, cannot be held accountable for false witness if they were unaware of the falseness of said witnesses.

    They should apologize, the witnesses absolutely should as well (but forcing them to is wrong), but he does deserve to be let out AND get set for the rest of his life for having so much of it taken away... and since cash is the vehicle best suited to establish a comfortable life for this person... give them cash.

  • ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User
    edited February 2011
    adytum wrote: »
    He was 18 and living with his parents when he was put in jail. His salary at that time was likely $0.

    There has to be some other way to figure it out.

    Doesn't really matter what his salary was at the time.
    You also cannot accurately predict what his salary would have been had he not been imprisoned so the best way to go about it is go from the average salary, adjusted for inflation.

    And he shouldn't just be given cash. He should be offered free education as well as psychiatric counsel for as long as he needs it.

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited February 2011
    zeeny wrote: »
    adytum wrote: »
    He was 18 and living with his parents when he was put in jail. His salary at that time was likely $0.

    There has to be some other way to figure it out.

    ...but we'll adjust for inflation!

    you missed my lasy poast.

    In those circumstances, you give the national average income, adjusted for inflation, with compounding interest.

    Sooo....

    He would be putting 30-40k a year away, with accrued interest. 27 years will give him 7 figures.

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    Someone who was jailed for 27 years (more than half his life) for multiple rapes... if he asked for multiple resignations of the officials who were responsible, I'd think that'd be appropriate. I can think of lots of things that would be more than fair. But since 27 years of prison was imposed on him, I think it's his turn to impose something on a society that violated him so greatly.

    So begging for forgiveness would be a start.

    But this wasn't a case of misconduct; nobody in the state or prosecutors office did anything wrong. All the witnesses identified him, and the blood testing available at the time matched him to the evidence at the scene. He's being exonerated in 2/4 cases because of more advanced DNA testing.

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  • Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    syndalis wrote: »
    Loklar wrote: »
    I think we'd have to be careful with just paying the wrongfully convicted. It would be awful if someone could draw up a graph and say "wellllll you were probably going to make X amount during your time in jail, so we'll give you that plus interest and penalties."

    It becomes too close to just a financial transaction when you're dealing with someone's life.

    Someone who was jailed for 27 years (more than half his life) for multiple rapes... if he asked for multiple resignations of the officials who were responsible, I'd think that'd be appropriate. I can think of lots of things that would be more than fair. But since 27 years of prison was imposed on him, I think it's his turn to impose something on a society that violated him so greatly.

    So begging for forgiveness would be a start.

    Paying them is the fairest path. Chances are the officials from 27 years ago are no longer in those posts. The judge and prosecutor, unless they fudged evidence, cannot be held accountable for false witness if they were unaware of the falseness of said witnesses.

    They should apologize, the witnesses absolutely should as well (but forcing them to is wrong), but he does deserve to be let out AND get set for the rest of his life for having so much of it taken away... and since cash is the vehicle best suited to establish a comfortable life for this person... give them cash.

    Yeap. Cash.

    It might not be fair to the taxpayers, who certainly didn't personally put the guy away, but having half his life taken away and having no ready means to make a living at all, let alone plan for something like retirement, he should receive a large sum of money so he at least doesn't need to worry about that.

  • OceaniaxOceaniax Registered User
    edited February 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    Someone who was jailed for 27 years (more than half his life) for multiple rapes... if he asked for multiple resignations of the officials who were responsible, I'd think that'd be appropriate. I can think of lots of things that would be more than fair. But since 27 years of prison was imposed on him, I think it's his turn to impose something on a society that violated him so greatly.

    So begging for forgiveness would be a start.

    But as it's already been said, there are lot of instances where there was literally no one in the chain of justice that was at fault. There have been a plethora of rape & murder cases over the last decade that have been overturned due to advances in DNA identifying technology. At the time those cases were tried, all the other police work could have been done correctly linking this person to the crime.

    While shoddy police work can be a factor, there are situations that arise where literally no one (except for the actual perpetrator) is to blame.

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    For the record, as of right now there's no guarantee he'll get out of jail.

    He was charged on 4 counts of rape, and convicted of 3. Of those 4 counts, 2 had DNA evidence. Of those 2 counts with DNA, he was convicted of 1; the other count was the one on which he was not convicted due to mistrial.

    He's had 1/3 convictions overturned, and their is absolutely no guarantee the other two will be overturned as the burden is to prove that he would not be convicted today in the same situation.

    At least one of the witnesses in those cases is sticking to their story.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Eh.

    You can't just give them a lump sum. Spending that long in prison with that little experience with money... a lump sum would evaporate AND would probably get them hurt as they went on a celebratory month-long bender.

    Instead, considering you have eliminated the person's ability to get anywhere meaningful in life unless they are goddamn special, something like advanced social security/disability would be in order. You've ruined their ability to earn a retirement, get a full education, work their way up through the ranks of a company, and form healthy social bonds and networks. Pay and release is not adequate. After 27 years, you have a permanent responsibility to that person.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    A shit ton of money. Free education or job placement which ever he wants. Get him good housing.

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  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited February 2011
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Eh.

    You can't just give them a lump sum. Spending that long in prison with that little experience with money... a lump sum would evaporate AND would probably get them hurt as they went on a celebratory month-like bender.

    Instead, considering you have eliminated the person's ability to get anywhere meaningful in life unless they are goddamn special, something like advanced social security/disability would be in order. You've ruined their ability to earn a retirement, get a full education, work their way up through the ranks of a company, and form healthy social bonds and networks. Pay and release is not adequate. After 27 years, you have a permanent responsibility to that person.

    Which is why you don't just release, but put them through a mandatory rehabilitation that involves the monetary settlement. Releasing them with a million dollars would be disastrous without making sure they have some measure of help.

    Maybe giving them the majority of the money in an unpiercable trust that generates guaranteed income? With some smaller percentage in cash to be used to establish themselves (buy a residence, a car, etc).

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    They should pretty much be guaranteed a lower middle class lifestyle with ample opportunities to go above and beyond.

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  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    From what I understand of other similar cases, usually the state pays them at least a million after they get out, and this is usually to settle the potential or pending lawsuit. I doubt that lump sums are the smartest thing to do, though. Most non-incarcerated people who win the lottery end up squandering much of their fortune when they have lump sums. A guaranteed sum that is then payed out once or twice monthly like a paycheck or SSI would probably help prevent the freed person from ending up in the poorhouse.

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  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited February 2011
    syndalis wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Eh.

    You can't just give them a lump sum. Spending that long in prison with that little experience with money... a lump sum would evaporate AND would probably get them hurt as they went on a celebratory month-like bender.

    Instead, considering you have eliminated the person's ability to get anywhere meaningful in life unless they are goddamn special, something like advanced social security/disability would be in order. You've ruined their ability to earn a retirement, get a full education, work their way up through the ranks of a company, and form healthy social bonds and networks. Pay and release is not adequate. After 27 years, you have a permanent responsibility to that person.

    Which is why you don't just release, but put them through a mandatory rehabilitation that involves the monetary settlement. Releasing them with a million dollars would be disastrous without making sure they have some measure of help.

    Maybe giving them the majority of the money in an unpiercable trust that generates guaranteed income? With some smaller percentage in cash to be used to establish themselves (buy a residence, a car, etc).

    The poor guy just spent 27 years doing what he was told, what to eat, when to sleep, when he could see his friends, left him in a cell and your solution is for the state to continue to manage his life?

    Don't you think the state has done enough to "correct" him?

    I really don't think there is a place for the government to act like it knows best for him. Because their last decision of what was best took his entire young-adulthood. Taking more decisions away from him is immoral.

    Ask him what he wants. Don't guess at what he wants.

    There are other victims here too, the rape victims had a false sense of justice for 27 years. That shouldn't be lost sight of either.

    When you wrong someone that heavily you should ask them what they need inorder for it to be made right.

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