Innocent Georgia man spent 12 years in prison for death of girlfriend

A criminal conviction is devastating for everyone involved: For the family left behind as well as the person convicted, and even the victims, who aren't guaranteed to feel a sense of closure seeing the person they think is responsible for their suffering going to jail. When a person has been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison, devastation turns to tragedy. A wrongfully convicted inmate can spend years languishing behind bars, unable to accomplish his or her dreams. Upon release from prison, whether they were exonerated or had served their entire sentence, former prisoners can find it extremely difficult to reintegrate into society. A criminal record can affect every aspect of a person's life, and he or she can also deal with ongoing feelings of injustice and anger from having to serve time for a crime he or she did not commit.

According to The Innocence Project, life doesn't return to normal for wrongfully convicted people who have been released. The former inmate now has to deal with not having a job, money, housing, transportation or health insurance. He or she has most likely missed out on the chance to establish valuable career skills, and the stigma of being a convicted criminal can linger for years. Since most wrongfully convicted people spend at least 13 years in prison before being cleared of crimes, it can be a terrible shock to be released into the world and essentially have to start over with life.

Convicted murderer cleared after serving 12 years

Yahoo! News reported on the story of a Georgia man who spent 12 years in prison for a drive-by shooting that killed his girlfriend, after two men who had been in a car with her at the time of the shooting identified him in a lineup. Later, they admitted not having seen him at the scene of the shooting, but had identified him because they've seen him at a bar earlier. After another investigation was opened, the man was deemed not guilty and has been told he may be able to file a civil damage lawsuit against authorities.

The state of Georgia currently doesn't have statutes to compensate for people wrongfully convicted of a crime. However, Forbes reports that The Innocence Project recommends wrongfully convicted people receive a minimum of $50,000 untaxed for each year of imprisonment, based on the federal Innocence Protection Act of 2004. Unfortunately, about 40 percent of wrongfully convicted people don't receive any compensation for their years in prison.

How an attorney can help

If wrongfully accused of a crime, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be your best advocate in fighting the charges, as well as an ally in attempting to reverse the damage done after spending time in prison. Hopefully in time, more states will adopt measures that will protect and compensate innocent people who have spent time behind bars for crimes they did not commit.