Category : criminal justice reform
Having a criminal record can present a number of challenges. Convicts, especially felons, may have trouble gaining employment, finding housing, establishing relationships or otherwise fully participating in society. Fortunately, it is possible to reclaim your life after a criminal case has been decided against you. There are several reasons to be hopeful. Involvement in the criminal justice system doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t overcome these challenges and come out a better person.
Unsurprisingly, the police sometimes finger the wrong person or coerce witnesses into identifying someone innocent, tamper with evidence or even lie outright in court. Because society tends to place a great amount of credibility in a police officer’s testimony, a wayward cop may tip the balance in a case toward a guilty verdict. Fortunately, the bad behavior of such officers often comes to the public’s attention, and when it does, it can shed new light on previous cases. Occasionally, wrongfully convicted prisoners can get a chance at exoneration and release due to an officer’s misconduct.
In the modern era, overturned convictions are becoming quite common. For example, a Manhattan man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and had spent twenty-four years in prison was recently released in September of 2019 due to new evidence. There are literally thousands of such examples each year across the United States. Advocacy groups estimate that about 4 percent of death row cases are wrongful convictions, and the numbers of wrongful convictions for less serious offenses are likely even higher. According to Schnipper Law, advancements in forensics have changed everything about the way the criminal justice system approaches cases. Convictions from decades ago can be overturned using these new technologies. Criminologists have discovered in recent years how much more effective hard evidence such as DNA samples can be compared to ineffective and unreliable eyewitness testimonies.
Retroactive Exoneration and Pardons
As a society, our changing values often lead to changing laws on the books. Even when laws remain on the books, presidents and governors have the ability to grant clemency or commutation of a sentence at their own discretion, according to the Restore Justice Foundation. It is possible to appeal directly to these leaders to make your case for clemency, commutation or a total pardon, and many achieve success with this method. The laws for such things vary by state, but it’s worth looking into what your state’s procedures are to see if you can get yourself pardoned or exonerated.
Don’t let your criminal record drag you down. With a certain amount of effort and the right strategy, you can work to mitigate the damage and get on with living the best life possible.
If you have a criminal record and need help getting a job or otherwise getting your life together, contact us and let us help you!