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Compensating the Wrongly Convicted in Hawaii

About half of people exonerated by DNA have not been compensated for the injustice they suffered and the time they spent incarcerated.

An editorial in Wednesday’s Honolulu Star Advertiser said Hawaii should join the list of states that compensates its wrongfully convicted once they are released from prison.

In the wake of Hawaii’s recent release of Alvin Jardine, who spent 20 years in prison for crimes DNA evidence now suggests he did not commit, University of Hawaii Sociology Professor David T. Johnson said criminal justice officials routinely ignore the serious errors in the system.

Hawaii law makes no promises to victims like Alvin Jardine: no financial compensation, no services, no assistance of any kind. The most he can currently hope for is an apology from the officials who made the mistake that stole 7,000 days of his life. But “Oops, sorry!” is not enough, and suing is unlikely to gain him anything because the U.S. Supreme Court has made it all but impossible to recover damages from the people responsible for miscarriages of justice.

Hawaii’s law needs to be changed. So does the tendency of criminal justice officials to deny the reality of ruinous mistakes about guilt and innocence — sometimes in the absence of malice, and sometimes in its presence.

Jardine, who was granted a new trial after his conviction was overturned in January, maintained his innocence throughout his trials, claiming that he was at home at the time of the attack. He gave up the possibility of parole a decade earlier by refusing to enter sex-abuse treatment that would have required him to admit guilt, according to the Star Advertiser.

Read the full editorial.

27 States Have Compensation Statutes: Is Yours One?

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