Wrongful convictions: apply restorative justice
I have met a number of exonerees in the U.S. These are men and women who were convicted and have served time for crimes they did not commit.
I have written a number of blog articles on this subject that appear at www.rjonline.org, a blog of Prison Fellowship International’s Centre for Justice & Reconciliation. Greg Wilhoit is the subject of many of those articles. One article is as follows: http://www.restorativejustice.org/RJOB/greg-wilhoit-the-story-of-an-innocent-man
Once an individual has been found to be wrongfully convicted then what? In some states here in the U.S. compensation follows. You might think that is somewhat automatic but it is not. In some cases, like Greg Wilhoit, he is still fighting and waiting for any kind of compensation. That’s just plain wrong.
What does this have to do with restorative justice? Plenty. Get the wrong man then the guilty party is still at large. Justice for the victim? Of course not. That’s two injustices. We must apply restorative justice to these cases. The innocent who, thank God, has been set free must be fully compensated and receive whatever assistance they need to live their lives as best they can when they reenter society. But in these cases that are often not solved once the wrongful conviction has been overturned then justice must be pursued still for the crime victim (the initial crime victim). RJI supports going further. Complicated? Yes, it is. Justice is often messy.
I want to acknowledge two groups doing great work in the field of wrongful convictions. Centurion Ministries in New Jersey and Witness to Innocence in Philadelphia, PA. Check them out if you do not know of them.