Denied: Judge says police didn’t know ‘reckless investigation’ was unconstitutional
Drew Whitley was convicted of a Pittsburgh murder back in 1989, and was then released from prison in 2006 after DNA tests proved he did not commit the crime. Since serving 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, he has filed an appeal with Allegheny County, where he was prosecuted, to get some sort of compensation for all those years he served unnecessarily. That appeal was recently denied. The following is from the denial:
The parties did not identify any decisions issued prior to 1989 concerning whether a reckless investigation violated an accused [person's] right to a fair trial. A reasonable officer in 1989 would not have fair warning that conducting a reckless investigation was unconstitutional.”
Meanwhile, Whitley is pretty much penniless, having given up the best years of his life to an unwarranted prison term. His son grew up without him, his family aged thinking he was a murderer.
Though Pennsylvania has no standard for compensating wrongfully convicted men and women, the Innocence Project in New York recommends that states:
- Compensate exonerated people immediately after release with a fixed sum or a range of recovery for each year of wrongful incarceration. Congress and President Bush have recommended that this amount be set at $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration.
- Provide immediate re-entry funds and access to job training, educational, health and legal services after an innocent person’s release.