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The lasting trauma of false imprisonment

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2021 | Appeals, Firm News, Life After Conviction, Post-conviction Relief |

Nobody enjoys serving time in prison, but at least the rightfully convicted are not tormented by the fact that they do not belong behind bars. For the falsely imprisoned, feelings of betrayal, anger and helplessness can mount for months, years and even decades as their sentence lingers on.

Studies on the psychological impact of false imprisonment show that victims often suffer severely from problems such as:

  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Drug and alcohol addition

One international study revealed that the difficulties faced by the falsely imprisoned were similar to those of returning war veterans. Even when a conviction is overturned, the damage does not magically disappear when the newly exonerated person exits the prison gates. The tragedy of many of these cases is that the trauma can last a lifetime.

Getting back into society

One of the key challenges facing the falsely imprisoned is returning to a society whose legal system let them down. Getting a job, finding a place to live—these routine life challenges are that much more difficult for a person who has been shut out of society due to a wrongful conviction.

In many cases, suspicions linger in the minds of the public, even when the convicted person was eventually exonerated and the reasons for the false imprisonment uncovered. This can lead to feelings of isolation, anger and hopelessness that the damage will never be undone.

The law offers hope

For those who are presently falsely imprisoned due to factors such as coerced confessions, prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective counsel, the chance of appeal offers a measure of hope. Some attorneys have devoted their careers to righting the wrongs faced by the falsely imprisoned. If you are struggling with the trauma of being falsely accused and imprisoned, having a strong fighter in your corner can shed a ray of light on the hopelessness you may be feeling.