Frequently Asked Questions
We address here some of the questions we get about wrongful convictions and the nature of our work. If you think of other questions, please let us know and we'll provide an answer here.
If they didn't do THIS crime, didn't they probably do some OTHER crime?
This takes us into the land of tricky logic. It implies that it's okay to convict someone of what they DIDN'T do because we didn't have the evidence to convict them of what they DID do. Further, this logic assumes that the wrongful conviction (say, for murder) is "equal" to the other likely crime or crimes that person did commit. In a democracy, we need to stick by the rules. It can get very messy if we don't. To do our work fairly and properly, we should and do focus only on the wrongful conviction.
Will an exoneree commit other crimes when he/she gets out?
It has happened. We need look no further than the Steven Avery (exonerated of rape in 2003; convicted of murder in 2007) case in Wisconsin. Disclaimer here as the Avery case is still on appeal and many believe in his innocence in this current case.
Every exoneree was not a "choir boy" at the time of their wrongful conviction. At the same time, many exonerees had little to no criminal record at the time of their wrongful conviction. Again, to do our work fairly and properly, we should and do focus only on the wrongful conviction.
In general, however, our belief is that this happens rarely. The most practical explanation is that most exonerees are older when they are released. So they are not tempted by the same things they might have been when they are younger. And it's important to emphasize that someone with little or no criminal record has no inclination at all to break the law.
Do guilty people try to claim innocence and get your help?
Yes, but they usually don't get very far. What can and does happen is that they will claim a DNA test will prove their innocence. And then it doesn't. Case closed.