Two men are seeking monetary compensation from the state of Connecticut for the years they spent behind bars for crimes they didn't commit. The claims filed with the claims commissioner will, in a sense, test the new Connecticut compensation for wrongful incarceration law that was passed just a few years ago. The process will also likely test the men, who struggle to make it in a world that's moved on without them.
It can take up to three years for someone who has been exonerated and released from prison to receive compensation. Depending on the length of their incarceration, some of these people don't have anyone to turn to when they are freed, leaving them to struggle to find employment, housing, and even food.
There are five claims pending in total at this time, two of which total more than $16 million. Miguel Roman served 20 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. Kenneth Ireland also spent time locked up for murder, 21 years worth. He was exonerated in 2009.
Unlike many other states, Connecticut's law doesn't put a cap on how much can be recovered from the state. It also doesn't bar the exonerees from seeking relief elsewhere. Roman is suing the city in federal court in addition to the claim he has against the state.
Both of these men were freed with help from the Connecticut Innocence Project who pushed for DNA testing in their cases.
Determining how much they might be entitled to is a matter that will be handled in the civil courts, with the state attorney general's office representing the state. The men's attorneys will evaluate how much potential income was lost over their decades in prison, any loss of earning capacity, and they will try to put a value on the damage done to the men's mental and emotional help as well as any damage to personal relationships.
There's little doubt these men and others like them feel a sense of vindication on the day they are released from prison. In both of these cases, the state has since found who was actually responsible for the murders. But nothing can undo the damage that's been done by a wrongful conviction.
It's difficult to be accused of something you didn't do. It's especially hard when those accusations come from the state in the form of criminal charges. When you are faced with criminal charges and you're innocent, it can feel like no one believes you and no one is on your side. Your defense attorney is.
If you are facing charges you are innocent of, contact my offices today. I will hear you out and help you determine the best course of action for your case.