DNA Evidence


DNA evidence is freeing more innocent people, but few are compensated for those years in prison.  (TIME, Dec. 11, 2000, p. 96)


"One unlucky evening in 1984, Ricky Daye was riding in a Buick with a broken taillight in San Diego.  The police pulled the car over and thought they recognized Daye's face from a WANTED  sketch.   He was arrested and five months later convicted of the brutal rape and kidnapping of a young San Diego mother.  Daye spent 10 years in California prisons, insisting all the time that he was innocent.  Finally, in 1994, a DNA test showed he could not have been the culprit, and he was freed."


He sued the police and the city and the prosecutors and the jury awarded him nothing.


Dennis Fritz spent 12 years in an Oklahoma prison for murder before he was released when DNA evidence showed he was innocent.


"Despite the wonderful clarity of DNA evidence, which has exonerated more than 80 Americans of crimes for which they had been imprisoned, two-thirds have never been given any compensation for their lost years."


In America where we routinely compensate those who have been wrongly injured, why have we tended not to compensate this group?


One of the key explanatory forces is how we tend to see anyone who is arrested as being guilty and anyone once found guilty is forever thought of in those terms.  Hopefully one day the Supreme Court will get a case and arrive at a finding that helps us to correct the way that we treat those who are treated unfairly in this way.  But, don't hold your breath!  Meanwhile, what compensation you receive, if any, depends to a large extent on the laws of the particular state that imprisons you.