Prisons and Those Who Have Been Wrongfully Imprisoned

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One of the most accurate definitions of justice is the standard of equitableness, moral rightness, or righteousness. It is a legal mechanism that is used to reasonably prosecute or judge offenses and offenders. A just undertaking, according to this definition, should be rational and equitable. Just and equal justice is any citizen's right and privilege, and it should be observed when dealing with some kind of criminal event. Imprisonment is often the result of committing an unlawful act on purpose, but wrongful imprisonment happens whenever someone is taken into custody, and their movement restricted minus consent or justification, and it is notable that false imprisonment is a law felony and crime (Leo 89-105). Within the course of administering justice, lawful detention is a right granted to the police against someone who they suspect to have been engaged in a criminal activity based on particular expressible facts or if the police have a definite cause to believe a crime has taken place and the person in question has taken part in it.

False detention may be illustrated in several forms, for example, most of the jurisdictions within the United States identify with the common law storekeeper's privilege which allows detention of a person suspected of shoplifting for some period then investigation to prove the person guilty or innocent (Leo 89-105) . Such temporary detention is only relevant and permitted whenever you have concrete evidence that the person you are holding custody is suspicious of the crime because keeping behind bars someone who has not committed a crime is wrongful imprisonment. In contrast, though, the shopkeeper's privilege is not a wide-structured privilege like that of the police officers. A person suspected of committing an unlawful act according to the stated laws should undergo a critical trial to discern if they are guilty or not and this brings out the concept of impartiality.

In some occasions, however, justice may fail to prevail and someone may be put in jail but wrongfully imprisoned probably due to an offense they never committed or as an aftermath of the unjust ruling. It is a criminal offense and civil wrong to put someone in jail due to charges without actually proving that they are indeed guilty of the crime. In close relation to this act is false arrest whereby someone apprehends another individual in the absence of the legal authorization to do so hence turning into false or wrongful imprisonment when the arrested person is taken into custody. States in the US have enacted false imprisonment set of laws to safeguard against unlawful confinement.

In a civil lawsuit, evidence of a false imprisonment is established only when the arrest was willful, against the law and without permission. A particular individual who brings forth claims of an illegal detention must have believed that he was restrained and a law court is tasked with certifying if such belief was rational by comparing with what a prudent person would logically do if faced with a similar situation. The court tries the person, and if found guilty, the claims of false arrest are disbanded and the person jailed.

Causes of Wrongful Imprisonment

Ideally, no one would be happy with the idea of being put in jail and being wrongfully kept in custody due to miscarriages of justice when they are innocent of any criminal charges filed against them. Over time, the issue of false conviction has become a reality in most legal jurisdictions, and it is a ‘mirror' to show how criminal justice procedures have failed. Several factors are to blame for false conviction: they may range between general police and prosecutorial misconduct, over-dependence on in-custody informants, erroneous eyewitness identification, and testimony as well as distorted confessions and defective judicial science or its misuse. Prisoners who are victims of false arrest usually have it rough coping up with the situation. Vital relationships outside prison are lost as a result, and they have problems developing relationships within the prison environment. Some may have mental deterioration caused by depression and failure to cope with the situation. The only option left for these prisoners who are victims of wrongful conviction is to learn to accept and cope up with their fate. The effects of imprisonment on the falsely imprisoned prisoners seem to have impacts which go beyond those facing other prisoners because the former are victims of loops in justice delivery.

These particular people thus develop strategies to put up with their misfortune. They can sink into withdrawal and depression, resort to being violent, and get preoccupied with vindication trying to verify their innocence or become excessively aggressive as ways of coping with the harsh life. In extreme cases, some prisoners can have suicidal ideation. Consequently, a person jailed unlawfully may face various long-term effects.

Repercussions of Wrongful Imprisonment

A prisoner of this caliber (false arrest) may accept the situation and serve the entire jail term, but upon release, their woes and difficulties do not end because the level of injustice meted out to them has long-term effects (Clow and Leach 149-160). Foremost, a person who has served a jail term undeservingly may develop intense anger and rage due to frustrations upon release due to prolonged frustrations. They may bring into being the high intolerance to injustices of any kind and maintain a feeling of imprisonment in spite of their release. They might as well lose personal freedom, sense of their former identity and sense of belonging. These effects not only impact on the individuals but also on their families. To the family, the typical close-knitted structure is disrupted. They may face hardships because apart from losing the breadwinner to prison (in cases whereby the primary source of income to the family is detained), they are denied emotional support, and they have to put up with the actuality of having a close family member in prison.

The individual, on the other hand, can have unexplained anger aggression and a lot of impulsive behavior towards society at large besides developing ardent resentment for the justice system, intensified by their prison experience. Apart from these effects, the ex-prisoner may feel an extended sense of being imprisoned although they are free. The thought of restraining hinders them from living a healthy life similar to that before the arrest due to increased self-consciousness. For example, a person who was unlawfully jailed on rape charges may feel ashamed of walking around as they think that everybody is aware of their mistake and is pointing fingers at them.


If justice does not prevail and someone gets wrongfully imprisoned, the unlawfully convicted have possible courses of action available to them to correct the rebound of justice even though most of these procedures are costly and time-taking. Conviction reviews following the appropriate criterion are done to address the conditions surrounding justice miscarriage (Kent and Carmichael 150-159). Moreover, financial compensation is also given to victims of denied justice after consideration of the circumstances that make someone eligible to get the compensation and the set down criteria for the remuneration. Notwithstanding, financial compensation is just a solace for the devastation caused but not a remedy to the effects brought about by wrongful detention.

Works Cited

Clow, Kimberley A., and Amy‐May Leach. "After Innocence: Perceptions of Individuals who have been Wrongfully Convicted." Legal and Criminological Psychology, vol. 20, no. 1, 2015, pp. 147-164.

Kent, Stephanie L., and Jason T. Carmichael. "Legislative Responses to Wrongful Conviction: Do Partisan Principals and Advocacy Efforts Influence State-Level Criminal Justice Policy?" Social Science Research, vol. 52, 2015, pp. 147-160.

Leo, Richard A. "The Criminology of Wrongful Conviction: A Decade Later." Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, vol. 33, no. 1, 2017, pp. 82-106.

January 25, 2023

Crime Sociology



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Prison Moral Society

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