Earlier this week, a 42 year old Las Vegas man who had spent half of his life in prison for a murder he didn’t commit was exonerated and freed. A Clark County judge overturned DeMarlo Berry’s conviction based on new evidence secured by Berry’s attorneys in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center.
The U.S. Constitution requires that prosecutors hand over exculpatory evidence to the defense. In a Supreme Court opinion that went largely unnoticed at the end of the term, however, the court ruled 6-2 to give prosecutors a free pass for their bad behavior. 20 years after a heinous murder, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project uncovered evidence that the prosecutors had withheld from the defense. The suppressed evidence suggested that someone other than the defendants committed the murder, and while everyone—including the government—agreed that prosecutors should have turned over the evidence at trial, the justices upheld the convictions.
New research expands the notions of collateral consequences beyond post-release barriers and discrimination. Two studies show that incarceration shortens life expectancy, at both the national and individual levels. The first, a 2016 study by Professor Christopher Wildeman, offers us an explanation for the U.S. falling behind on life expectancy: mass incarceration. The sheer magnitude of how many people are locked up shortens our entire nation’s life expectancy. The second, a 2013 analysis of New York state parole data conducted by Professor Evelyn Patterson, identified a linear relationship between incarceration and life expectancy: for each year lived behind bars, a person can expect to lose two years off their life expectancy.
A man who was convicted at 13 and later exonerated after falsely confessing to murder says he is grateful a court revived his request for compensation in Mississippi — and that others might benefit from a change in how the state handles wrongful conviction lawsuits."I had lost a lot of faith in Mississippi's judicial system," said Tyler Edmonds, now 28. Mississippi allows up to $50,000 for every year someone is imprisoned after a wrongful conviction. People must sue the state for the compensation. A judge rejected Edmonds' compensation request in 2015, saying the false confession amounted to fabrication of evidence.