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  • This power point presentation represents the research into the psychological effects that being wrongfully convicted can have on an individual and his/her family.
  • The mental and emotional impacts of being wrongfully convicted of a crime have been researched more so in the last two decades than any time period before hand. There are some positive effects this event might have on an individual, but most of the effects are negative. A relationship was found between being wrongly convicted and post traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD), both in the individual and the individual’s family. These effects did not seem to be as severe if the family was strong and supportive of each other during the incarceration and after the individual came home. Research found that not only did the individual have trouble with the re-entry into society, but so did the individuals family. In the research, issues such as family, community support, and resources for these individuals were addressed.
  • “Faith in America’s justice system is predicated in large part on the basic belief that the guilty will be convicted and punished, while those who are not guilty will be proved innocent and set free. This fundamental assumption, however, fails to recognize the critical fact that justice systems wrongly convict thousands of innocent people every year.” (Cole, 2004). Wrongful convictions are a serious problem that has gained more attention over the past two decades. America has one of the best judicial systems in the world so it brings to question, why is this happening and how is it affecting those it is happening to? “Such errors have serious consequences, not only for the innocent individuals’ who are convicted and subjected to lengthy incarceration, or even the death penalty, but also for public safety.” (Huff, 2002).
  • A descriptive study of 18 men revealed evidence of substantial personality changes, mood changes and changes in the relationships with family members. The ICD-10 Classification of Mental Health and Behavioral Disorders described the changes as “hostile or mistrustful attitude towards the world, social withdrawal, feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, and a chronic feeling of threat and estrangement.” (Grounds, 2004). The research indicated changes in the following manner: Enduring personality changes: The men’s personalities changed in a way that not only affected them but affected their families. PTSD: They said they always felt on edge, always felt like someone was watching them and felt like in all situations people were talking about them. Disorders: Many of these men had reported having disorders such as depression, panic attacks, paranoia, and alcohol and drug dependency. Practical Skills: The study showed that the men had problems with simple tasks such as “crossing busy roads, going to stores, how to work the central heating and air conditioning unit, working the remote controls, videos, and credit cards.” (Grounds, 2004). Emotions: While in prison, as a safeguard, the men learned to hide their emotions and isolate themselves in order to keep from getting hurt or into trouble. When released, they continued with this type of behavior. A descriptive study of 5 Canadians indicated that not only did they have the same problems as the other men upon release from prison, but due to being wrongfully convicted, while in prison, the men “made use of several highly adaptive coping strategies, including cooperation, withdrawal, preoccupation with exoneration and rejection of the label of criminal.” (Campbell & Denov, 2004).
  • Visitation during incarceration is hard, both on the individual and their families. Some men had to have glass visits, which took an emotional toll on the men so they just stopped the visits all together. This was hard on the children not only because they could not see their loved one, but they continued to ask when they were coming home. “When judges sentence individuals to prison and when prison administrators determine visitation policies, minor children often are ignored.” (Boudin, 2011). Maintaining contact with the incarcerated individual is extremely important for the children. Often children with incarcerated parents develop problems such as behavior problems, academic failure, and substance abuse problems. If the child is not able to visit the incarcerated parent there are other ways to keep the contact going. They can either receive phone calls or write letters. In a study done by Tuerk and Loper in 2006, they found “that the frequency of letter writing, rather than the frequency of person visits or phone calls, accounted for the association between more child contact and less parenting stress.” (Poehlmann, 2010).
  • Re-entry into society, after incarceration, whether as a guilty individual or an innocent individual, is a very difficult thing for an individual to handle. Understanding these pathways and the reasons for an individual’s success or failure is the focus of a recently scholarly review. “Post prison reintegration and adjustment depends on four sets of factors: “personal and situational characteristics, family relationships, community contexts, and state policies.” (Visher, 2003). Upon re-rentry research shows that the individual needs to have supportive peers that will keep them from doing anything to get themselves into trouble again. They will need supportive family. Having the support of the family is the best way that the individual can stay strong and move forward with his life. They will need a supportive community. If they move into a community that is not supportive of a person that has spent time in prison, they will have a hard time finding a job and becoming a upstanding member of the community. There are resources for assisting men and women returning from incarceration for their reintegration into society. These groups help with things like employment, housing, mentoring, and substance abuse. “Research indicates that support systems that provide pro-social life skills is an important part of the re-entry process. (Trulear, 2011).

Paper power point Paper power point Presentation Transcript

  • The effect of Wrongful Conviction on Individuals and their families
  • Mental and emotional impacts of being wrongfully convicted
  • Justice System
    Faith in the Justice System
  • Research
    Descriptive study of 18 newly released prisoners
    Descriptive study of 5 Canadians on life in prison
  • Family Contact
    Visitation
    Phone Calls
    Letter Writing
  • Re-entry
    Family support
    Community support
    Community assistance
  • References #1
    Boudin, C. (2011), Children of incarcerated parents: The child’s constitutional right to the family relationship, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 101(1), 77-118.
    Campbell, K. & Denov, M. (2004). Judicial error: Criminal justice, Canadian Journal of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 139 (25), ISSN:17077753.
    Cole, M. (2004). Wrongly convicted: Perspectives on failed justice, Canadian Journal of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 46(2), 213-217.
    Grounds, A. (2004). Psychological consequences of wrongful conviction and imprisonment, Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 46(2), 165-182
  • References #2
    Huff, R. (2002). Wrongly convicted: Perspectives on failed justice, Contemporary Sociology, 32(4), 467-469.
    Poehlmann, J. (2010). Children’s contact with their incarcerated parents: Research findings and recommendations. American Psychologist, 65(6), 575-598.
    Trulear, H. (2011). Balancing justice with mercy: Creating a healing community, Social Work and Christianity, 38(1), 74-87.
    Visher, C. (2003). Transitions from prison to community: Understanding individual Pathways, Annual Review of Sociology, 29, 89-113.