Roger “Dean” Gillespie, a man who served 20 years in prison, shared his experience in a criminal behavior class in Bluefield State College about his incarceration experience and eventual release (as he was determined to be wrongfully convicted).
Gillespie was convicted of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and rape in February 20, 1991. He recalls his arrest, saying he was sitting on his front porch when the authorities arrived and arrested him. It was only on December 22, 2011 that he was freed when the federal judge threw out the case.
In his story, Gillespie told the class that he kept his sanity by doing artwork. It also helped that he knew he was innocent and that his family kept believing in his innocence. Gillespie said that after he was freed, he was angry. Understandably so, but he chose not to dwell in anger and just enjoyed his newfound freedom.
Wrongful Conviction Rate in the U.S.
The rate of wrongful conviction is a complex yet very important thing to study. Generally, there are only estimates. In a 2012 study, it was estimated that 2,000 innocent defendants go to prison every year with an additional 3,000 who receive lesser sentences of felony. Another study in 2014 conducted by lawyers and statisticians gave a result of 4.1 percent of false conviction. This might seem a small percentage, but considering that there are 2 million inmates in the U.S., that amounts to thousands of individuals wrongfully convicted. Moreover, the proponents of the studies noted that these are conservative estimates.
Avoiding Wrongful Conviction
Wrongfully convicted individuals who get freed, like Gillespie, represent just a small portion of all the innocent inmates today. Even though Gillespie knew himself to be innocent (a notion which was eventually vindicated), he still served 20 years, and it’s definitely preferable if you don’t go through such an unfortunate fate. You must make a strong defense with the help of a criminal defense lawyer from a reputed Salem law firm.
Why not take a court-appointed lawyer? This is because most court-appointed lawyers have mountains of workload, which means that they can’t focus on your case as much as they need to. They won’t be able to investigate in detail. This reduces your chances of winning the case. As much as possible, get an experienced Salem criminal lawyer from credible firms such as The Law Office of Matthew T. Schottmiller, PLLC.
(Source: Experience of incarceration after wrongful conviction, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Nov. 6, 2014)