Streams

Is $1 Million a Year Justice for the Wrongfully Imprisoned?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Last month, the city reached a $40 million settlement with five men wrongfully convicted in the rape of a jogger in Central Park in 1989. It equals about $1 million for every year served. So how exactly are damage awards calculated?

It turns out there is no formula, and no standard. But if you’re wrongfully convicted, there are two options to try to recover some money:

  1. An exoneree can bring a federal civil rights case, attempting to show wrongdoing on the part of police or prosecutors. These cases can result in big jury awards. 
  1. An exoneree convicted in New York can sue the state under the Court of Claims Act. A judge hears the case, and issues a written decision explaining his or her reasoning.

Either way, the exoneree is beginning an adversarial process that can take a long time, with unpredictable results.

Contrast the experiences of these three men, all released in the last decade:

Jeffrey Deskovic

Alan Newton
                                                                  
Martin Tankleff
 
 

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Comments [6]

bb from nyc

my comment about the headline was based on an earlier headline- thanks wnyc for changing to a more appropriate one.
still such a tragic story...

Jul. 22 2014 12:34 PM
EL from NYC

IN NY STATE ONLY THE WHITE EXONEREES HAVE BEEN COMPENSATED, CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES. IN NYC MR. NEWTON WON A 18.5M AWARD AND WAS TAKEN AWAY BY THE JUDGE(WHO TOLD NEWTON AND HIS ATTY. THEY WANTED TO MUCH MONEY). PLENTY OF BLACK MEN IN NY STILL WAITING TO BE COMOPENSATED.

Jul. 22 2014 11:20 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

There is NO way to compensate people for so much life lost. Life, as we all know, is worth far more than mere monetary damages, although reimbursing people for lost income, paying for education, etc., is a start.

The only good thing that can come of this is if law enforcement and legal proceedings are more thoroughly scrutinized and that regulations are put in place to prevent this happening in the future. Now that we have more technology available to us, we must use it. And bear in mind that DNA testing costs MUCH less than multi-million-dollar settlements for wrongful imprisonment. You know, "an ounce of prevention..." My sister worked for a state court system for years and used to tell me that it was far too expensive for the legal system to actually do everything we see on CSI, but now that we have all these wrongful imprisonment suits, the numbers will turn around.

Another important thing is that not all the wrongful imprisonment suits should be paid for with our tax dollars - especially if the defendants have been represented by incompetent counsel. They pay malpractice insurance for a reason and those attorneys should be sued and have reimbursement funds come from their insurance.

Jul. 22 2014 10:56 AM
Michael

Are the Prosecutors or police who withheld evidence that would have cleared those wrongfully convicted ever tried or fined?

Jul. 22 2014 09:04 AM
bb from nyc

i agree- awful headline. i have a friend who was just wrongfully id'd in a crime and is facing a nightmare and potential prison time. i was going to send him the article but it sounds so glib.
this is so heartbreaking when peoples lives are taken away (22 years for rape!) not to mention how it affects the rest of your life... and then no compensation... and it seems to happen constantly!! (and i don't even want to get into race...)

Jul. 22 2014 08:32 AM
Mary

Really insensitive title. Another hint at the insinuations that affect the population that makes up the majority of prisons and jails - they are lazy, they will accept handouts... heck, they'll go to jail even if innocent for money.

Jul. 22 2014 07:44 AM

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