False convictions must be compensated

Katarzyna Borkowska

On Oct. 13, Lamonte McIntyre was released from prison after being locked away from society for over two decades. The issue with McIntyre’s release lies in the fact that he was falsely imprisoned and released without any form of financial compensation or government assistance. McIntyre was imprisoned in 1994 for a double homicide and has not experienced life outside a prison cell since then.

The world has changed significantly over the past two decades. Technology has become an integral part of daily life and has evolved tremendously since 1994. McIntyre was locked away in a world without an iPhone, or even a phone capable of performing tasks outside of calling and texting. For the students at Baruch College, many of whom are studying business in some form, technology plays a critical role in finding a job today. Having been cut off from the outside world for so long, McIntyre will certainly struggle to adapt to modern life, especially when attempting to find a job.

Being isolated from modern society for even as little as a year can be staggering. To be thrown back into this advanced society after 20 years can downright shocking. McIntyre does not have the luxury of state help, job training or money to get him back on track in life. Since the police and prosecution are heavily protected, suing them will prove to be a bigger challenge than most would expect. The majority of individuals faced with similar circumstances walk away with nothing.

The state is responsible for putting people behind bars when there is evidence to prove guilt to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Everyone makes mistakes, including the government; however, the institution should be held accountable for its mistakes. In this case, it clearly was not. Over 30 percent of states offer zero compensation for wrongly incarcerated individuals. These people had their lives taken away from them because of an oversight. The consequences of these accusations, regardless of their validity, are severe and irreversible. Being falsely accused can ruin an individual’s family life, reputation and future job prospects. Companies are wary of hiring someone who was previously incarcerated, even if that person was proven innocent in the end.

It is unjust to release someone who has been locked away for years without any form of assistance. No matter how educated or adapted a person is, re-entering modern society after years of incarceration is unavoidably shocking. This should not be handled alone with no form of government support or compensation. While a human life cannot be measured monetarily, it is certainly not valueless.