In Obie’s case, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate legal defense, and false accusation led to his wrongful conviction. His lawyer completely failed to conduct a proper investigation, and never believed that Obie was innocent. The prosecutor cut a secret deal with the key witness. The key witness falsely picked Obie out of a line-up. This is not uncommon. In fact, official misconduct by prosecutors, police, and other government officials contribute to 69% of wrongful convictions in homicide cases. (Source: National Registry of Exonerations)
There is no established state program to help exonerees after release from prison, and they do not have access to the reentry programs available to individuals on parole. When Obie was released he didn’t even have identification – no social security card or birth certificate. After seventeen years in prison, he didn’t know what
to write on his resume, how to land a job, or even how to use a cell phone. Like Obie, other exonerees face barriers to meeting their basic needs, securing safe housing and finding living wage employment.
WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS ARE DUE IN PART TO OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT.
Obie’s wrongful incarceration was traumatic, and now he lives with PTSD. Sometimes he can’t stop thinking about the things he saw in prison – the killings, the stabbings, the time medical staff strapped down and shot up someone with enough thorazine to permanently disable him. Even today, Obie is always on guard. Like Obie, other exonerees face major mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and PTSD long after release. Without assistance following release, exonerees struggle to access the treatment and support they need.
Exonerated Nation is a growing organization and we’re calling on you to help us meet the needs of exonerees. Here are three ways to support us: