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Understanding the Effects of Wrongful Imprisonment (From Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Volume 32, P 1-58, 2005, Michael Tonry, ed. - See NCJ-241498)

NCJ Number
Adrian T. Grounds
Date Published
58 pages
This article presents the results of research that examined the long-term impact on individuals who had been wrongfully imprisoned.
Concern about cases of wrongful conviction has arisen across different jurisdictions in recent decades. Some wrongly convicted individuals have spent many years in prison before their convictions are quashed, but little is known about the psychological effects of such miscarriages of justice on them. A preliminary descriptive clinical study examined 18 men referred for psychiatric assessment after their convictions were quashed on appeal and they were released from long-term imprisonment. Substantial psychiatric morbidity and problems of psychological and social adjustment were evident in most cases. The difficulties of the wrongly convicted and their families were similar to those described in the clinical literature concerning other groups, such as war veterans, who have been exposed to chronic psychological trauma. At least some of the postrelease adjustment problems appeared to be a product of long-term imprisonment per se, which suggests that the "prison effects" literature has significant limitations. Research on the effects of long-term imprisonment has been carried out almost exclusively on prisoners in custody. What is of most importance and relevance is how the effects of long-term imprisonment are manifested after release. (Published Abstract)