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The struggle and "hell" of exonerees

It is almost common nowadays to read of a prisoner somewhere in the USA being exonerated of a crime she or he was alleged - and convicted - of carrying out.   The exonerees have mostly spent many multiples of years in jail and quite a few even on Death Row.    But what happens after these people are released?    Mother Jones in an article "After Prison, the Exonerated Face a Different Kind of Hell" provides an insight into something rarely read or heard about.......

"A national registry tracks the number of exonerees in America—1,900 since 1989—but nobody knows how many of them struggle with chronic health issues like PTSD. And that's a problem, according to experts on wrongful conviction, because the United States currently has few safeguards in place to help them get back on their feet after prison, leaving many struggling to adjust. After his exoneration, Gary Gauger, who was sentenced to death in 1994 for the murder of his parents, said he didn't leave his home unless forced to do so. In March this year, Darryl Hunt, who spent 19 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, killed himself in a parking lot. "People work really, really hard to get us out, and then we're out and nobody knows what the heck to do with us," LeFever says. "Because we're not the same people who went in."

For inmates on parole, reentry programs can help with the challenge of accessing mental health care. But most exonerees lack a similar support network. Innocence organizations are often so buried in efforts to free the wrongfully convicted that they don't have the resources to also assist them after they're released. The government doesn't always help out, either: Twenty states don't offer any financial compensation to exonerees, and only two states have laws guaranteeing them access to medical care, according to the Innocence Project. "We open the door and let them out and mostly turn our backs on them," says Jon Eldan, a California-based lawyer who works with exonerees. If policymakers knew how many exonerees struggled with chronic health problems, he says, they might push for better compensation, reentry programs, and other safety nets."


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