Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Concur On Need For Compensation For Wrongful Convictions

The following letter to the editor from Michael J. Macchioni of South Hanover was published in yesterday's PennLive.com Mr. Macchioni writes about the need for compensation for the wrongfully convicted in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has many examples of wrongful convictions, including six men that were exonerated after being sentenced to death. The full text of the report of the Advisory Commission on Wrongful Convictions can be found here.

I urge you to contact your PA State Representative expressing your support for the introduction of a bill dealing with this issue and asking that they consider working with Representative Marsico to draft such legislation.

"A commitment to equality for all citizens and to a fair justice system are hallmarks of our democracy. Pennsylvania, however, is one of 24 states having no wrongful conviction compensation statute. Advanced DNA testing has been used by the Innocence Law Project to exonerate those wrongfully convicted of crimes.

Michael Morton of Texas is an example of an exoneree helped by the Innocence Law Project. He spent nearly 25 years in prison for murdering his wife until DNA testing proved his innocence and implicated the real perpetrator. Since his exoneration, the Texas Supreme Court has ordered a court of inquiry to determine whether the prosecutor contributed to Morton’s wrongful conviction by concealing evidence of Morton’s innocence from the defense.

Even the conservative-leaning state of Texas has a comprehensive wrongful conviction compensation statute. Texas provides compensation for child-support payments, tuition for up to 120 hours at a career center or college and re-entry and reintegration services, including life skills, job and vocational training for as long as those services are beneficial. In addition, the state provides necessary documentation (i.e. a state ID card) and financial assistance to cover living expenses. Help also is provided to access medical and dental services.

I’ve asked Rep. Ron Marsico to introduce legislation to counter the injustice of wrongful convictions. I ask that other interested citizens join me in calling for this to be made right.

South Hanover Twp."

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