Exoneration is validation, a way for the wrongfully incarcerated to move forward with their lives without shame or guilt. Exoneration brings dignity and pride back into the lives of the innocent people victimized by the criminal justice system and does the same for their families and loved ones. When exoneration works, the dark cloud hanging over these innocent people is lifted.
Exoneration and financial compensation for wrongs done to the innocent and wrongly accused in the name of justice can offer a new beginning, a chance to start over and a way to mend wrongs. Financial compensation is not in itself an eraser for the conviction of innocent people.
The Oxford American Dictionary states that exoneration is an action of officially absolving someone from blame; vindication.
When formerly incarcerated people are released from prison, exonerated or not, they all need services to help piece their lives back together. Depending on how long they were in prison, these formerly incarcerated people may need housing, counseling, job training, education, and medical care.
Some may have lost intricate support systems, like parents and family members, religious leaders, and compensation during their time in prison, all the things that all people expect as support from the outside world. The terrain as it was before they were wrongfully incarcerated may have changed. The streets they used to know may no longer exist. The housing they used to live in may be gone. The cost of transportation could have gone up. And they will need support to navigate this new world they find themselves in post-exoneration.
Some remain locked up in the prison mentality and need to ask such simple things as if they get something out of the refrigerator, go to the bathroom, or change the channel on the tv. It may feel to them like they have moved into another world altogether.