When Justice Fails: Indemnification for Unjust Conviction
University of Chicago Roundtable, Vol. 73, No. 6, 1999
40 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2009
Date Written: 1999
The first section of this article reviews the evidence, both historical and contemporary, documenting the existence and frequency of wrongful convictions. The next dissects an actual case to illustrate how an innocent person can be convicted and why, once the error has been corrected and the conviction is vacated, that person generally has no legal action for damages in the absence of indemnification legislation. The third section argues that society has a moral obhgation to assist the wrongfully convicted; that indemnification legislation is a better approach than reliance on ''moral obligation" bills; and that enacting legislation is possible - just as it was possible to pass victims' compensation laws in every state. The fourth part compares various indemnification statutes to urge that antiquated restrictions be lifted and that potential awards be increased.
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