Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2009




Boston University School of Law




Exoneration of wrongfully convicted prisoners is not a new thing, but it seems to be more common with advances in the availability and utility of DNA evidence. Given the number of exonerations that have occurred in recent years, it is increasingly difficult to dismiss inmates’ ubiquitous claims of innocence. Is it still a safe assumption that the vast majority of claims of innocence are false? Do we trust that post-conviction and appellate procedures will sort the wheat from the chaff?

Regardless of how we answer the questions raised above, there is one question society must answer—how should the wrongfully convicted be treated? Should they receive compensation or social services? Can their pre-conviction reputations be restored? These are the questions that the participants in this symposium address. Very little has been written about the availability of compensation and services post-exoneration. Adele Bernhard, one of the participants in this symposium, has published two articles on the subject,1 and while general civil rights scholarship is relevant, given the number of exonerations that have occurred in recent years in the United States, it seems appropriate to look beyond innocence toward compensation and services.

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