U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Addressing the Impact of Wrongful Convictions on Crime Victims

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 274 Dated: 2014 Pages: 34-38
Date Published
October 2014
5 pages
Publication Series
This study examined how wrongful convictions affected the original victims in 11 of such cases, and recommendations for improving services to such victims are offered.
More than half of the victims described the impact of the wrongful conviction as being comparable to, or worse than, that of the original victimization. Many reported they were in shock when they first heard about the exoneration. The majority of the victims also reported having intense feelings of guilt, especially among the two-thirds of victims who provided eyewitness identification. In addition, victims felt they were targets of anger in various media, and some feared that the wrongfully convicted person might retaliate against them and their families. When asked for recommendations on how to better serve these victims, both victims and stakeholders recommended improving notification information and services for crime victims involved in cases of wrongful convictions. There was agreement that the criminal justice system should provide initial notification, preferably through the officials involved in the original cases. Many stakeholders proposed having a victim service provider present when the notification is given in person. Others emphasized having a law enforcement representative or prosecutor present to provide information about possible additional litigation, including plans to continue the investigation to find the perpetrator or prosecute a suspect already arrested. Recommendations varied regarding the timing of victim notification of the wrongful conviction. 4 recommendations for additional information on this issue

Date Published: October 1, 2014