Lamonte McIntyre’s October exoneration for a double murder left him with nothing but a clean record. Having served 23 years in a Kansas prison, the state offered him nothing for his time served.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in 18 states across the Nation, including Kansas, that does not compensate individuals for time served before exoneration.
According to Tricia Bushnell of the Innocence Project, McIntyre’s entire case was questionable from the start. At McIntyre’s 1994 trial, Bushnell claims that there was no physical evidence or motive presented at the trial. In addition, lead police detective Roger Golubski has been accused of threatening witnesses.
Bushnell states that there are around a dozen individuals behind bars whose cases are also connected to detective Golubskii, which may impact other potential exonerations.
Golubski is now retired and claims no wrongdoing. However, his conduct is being reviewed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
According to an article by the Washington Post, 1 in 25 defendants who are sentenced to death in the United States are later shown to be innocent. Since death sentences are more thoroughly documented, statistics are much easier to research. This ratio could be higher or lower for individuals convicted of prison sentences only.
The same Washington Post article questions the rate of innocence for guilty pleas for misdemeanors. Apparently most individuals arrested for misdemeanors are held in jail because they couldn’t make bail. In their first court appearance, they are given a one-time only offer to plead guilty and get probation or opt to continue to stay in jail waiting on a trial that may not come for months.
According to attorney Marc Anidjar, more than half of exonerations come from cases of perjury or false accusations. This occurs most often in homicide and child sex abuse cases. Mistaken witness identification tends to be a common occurrence in sexual assault cases.
The increased technology in crime labs has also contributed to a number of exonerations. DNA evidence-related exonerations currently happen at a rate of 20 cases per year. Most of these exonerations are for individuals who were convicted before DNA testing was common, potentially resulting in decades of time served under false accusations.
Individuals who are exonerated for modern cases are often the result of a failure to follow protocol. Law enforcement has a high burden of responsibility to comply with the law and respect an individual’s rights. If any action was taken that failed to comply with proper protocol, accused individuals can use that action to plead a case for exoneration.
Cases like McIntyre’s continue to rally support for a change in state policies regarding exoneration. Kansas is currently under great scrutiny for holding McIntyre for 23 years, then releasing him back into society with absolutely nothing. What is the value of taking 23 years of a man’s life that he can never get back? That is a question that the state of Kansas may soon have to answer.