Without Legal Obligation: Compensating the Wrongfully Convicted in Australia
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After exoneration, some innocent individuals seek financial compensation and social services to aid with their reintegration into society. Since not all countries or jurisdictions have compensation legislation, exonerees are left with limited alternatives to address financial, psychological, and health issues that are often consequences of the wrongful conviction and incarceration. In common law jurisdictions, one compensation remedy is the application for ex gratia, ?out of grace? payments, for wrongful convictions. Australia is one of the few common law jurisdictions that do not have state or federal compensation statutes for exonerees, leaving ex gratia payments as the primary means to seek restitution. However, there are no guidelines to evaluate cases or allocate awards. Furthermore, ex gratia decisions are indisputable without the chance of appeal. This article reviews successful and unsuccessful ex gratia applications for wrongful conviction in Australia from 1985 to 2011 and examines the state's corresponding rationales for these decisions. Not surprisingly, the rationales lacked any precedent or transparency in the decision making process. This article concludes with suggestions for a comprehensive statute that addresses monetary and non-monetary consequences of wrongful conviction.
Albany Law Review
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