One of the last things Americans would want to experience is being charged with a crime, and yet it does happen. In Utah, at least 4,000 inmates are in the state prison. The Beehive State also recorded a growing number of prisoners. In 2019, it increased by 300 or over 6,700 of them a day.
When one faces a criminal charge, the state can provide a public defender. In some cases, they may choose to skip a jury trial or plead guilty. In many ways, the best option is to work with an experienced criminal attorney in Salt Lake City. The price one pays for a weak defense can be high. Consider the story of Ricky Jackson.
40 Years behind Bars
At 18, Ricky Jackson already had a life that’s completely different from the rest of the youngsters of that time. A criminal court sentenced the Ohio native, along with two others, to death for committing murder.
The story goes that these three young males robbed Harold Franks and his wife in a convenience store, while the couple was busy with their money-order business. The central eyewitness said that he saw two blacks splash acid on the man’s face and then went on to club and eventually shoot him
Due to the sentence, the lawyers immediately appealed for a lower penalty. Eventually, all three received life imprisonment until they were exonerated. The primary eyewitness recanted his story, sharing he testified falsely due to police coercion.
But by then, Jackson had already spent about 40 years of his life behind bars—the longest time for any exonerated convict in the United States.
Today, Ricky Jackson is keeping himself busy. In an interview with the Smithsonian, he said he felt a sense of urgency and that he had every intention to live a good life. He already received $1 million from the government, which is half of the compensation for his long imprisonment.
Everything to Lose
When asked about his prison life, Jackson talked about how he fought to survive—literally. Fortunately, he learned to educate himself and made himself as productive as possible. Either way, there’s no doubt that he lost a lot along the way.
The same goes for hundreds of people who are now behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Others may still be waiting for a day in court.
The effect of incarceration is tremendous. According to a 2001 report, the families left behind may experience significant financial difficulty whether the incarcerated individual is the spouse or not. Children whose parents end up in prison will eventually be part of the foster care system unless a capable relative applies to be the guardian.
All parties will also have to deal with the emotional trauma that comes with imprisonment. The ones left behind may be subject to ridicule, abuse, or social stigma.
The loss also doesn’t stop the moment a person gets out. A 2018 report revealed that 27% of ex-offenders didn’t have a job. That’s over a million people.
To be accused of a crime is scary, and the lack of legal knowledge makes it worse. Fortunately, they can also remember one thing: they can always get help. Reliable criminal attorneys are available to make sure the accused also get justice.