Nearly 90 percent of the 227 people cleared by DNA evidence since 1989 were convicted of some of the most heinous sex crimes, says the Innocence Project. DNA – present in blood, semen and body cells – can be particularly useful in solving sex crimes and often is the most definitive way of determining innocence, says USA Today. Still, once-convicted sex offenders who are cleared by genetic testing face a lasting stigma, and the criminal justice system that wrongly jailed them offers little help. After high-profile releases from prison, exonerees often fend for themselves.
Most states did not account for the exonerated when officials started prisoner re-entry programs. Most are ineligible for basic benefits, such as counseling and job training, that guilty offenders get when they re-enter society. Despite campaigns to get the wrongfully convicted financial help to compensate for the years lost in prison, 25 states don’t do so. In states that do, the money or services often are offered only if the exonerated waive their right to sue. Such lawsuits seek monetary damages for wrongful convictions and compensation for time in prison. The burden of re-integration into society is heavier for wrongly convicted sex offenders than for other exonerees.