There has been a distinct rise in the number of wrongfully convicted people released from Michigan prisons in recent years. Between the efforts of U of M’s Innocence Clinic, WMU’s Cooley Law School Innocence Project, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, great strides have been made towards righting the wrongs of the past. But freeing an innocent person after they’ve served time behind bars doesn’t erase the memories of that time served.
A recent story in the Detroit News showcased this particular issue perfectly. In the story, several exonerated individuals were interviewed, and their stories are heartbreaking. People who never did the terrible things they were accused of, but have spent years living in the toxic environment of a Michigan state prison. And the damage it did to their psyches is incalculable. As you’d imagine, the Michigan Department of Corrections is not very hospitable.
Prison time has a huge impact on how a person functions
Ken Wyniemko, who spoke to the Detroit News about his experiences behind prison bars, was released after serving nine years for a rape he didn’t commit. But the horrors he witnessed in prison have stayed with him long after he was freed. Wyniemko says he saw people being raped, and stabbed to death. It was incredibly traumatic for him, and despite the fact that he has been out of prison since 2003, he’s still tormented by memories of his time in prison.
According to a study conducted last year by psychologists at the University of Wisconsin, people have a greater chance of developing PTSD after time behind bars. Of the men studied, those who had been imprisoned were twice as likely to suffer from PTSD. A separate study that made similar findings, showed a direct link between high instances of PTSD in the prison population, and being physically assaulted, being sexually assaulted, or witnessing someone being killed or seriously injured.
Prison is a terrible place, especially when you don’t deserve to be there!
Another concrete example of the changes prison can bring about in a person’s life is the case of Konrad Montgomery. Montgomery was convicted after then-assistant Wayne County prosecutor John Casey misrepresented cellphone evidence during the trial. Later investigation showed that same evidence actually revealed Montgomery had been 11 miles from the shooting when it happened. But being in prison has changed his personality.
In the interview with the Detroit News, Montgomery said that his current girlfriend sometimes calls him a monster because he doesn’t show emotion. However, as he points out, showing emotion is ill-advised in prison, and he’s learned to keep a tight rein on his feelings. Shutting down, he says, was how you stayed alive. But it has made life on the outside much harder, and Montgomery says he’s definitely not the person he was before being incarcerated.
Don’t go to prison for something you didn’t do!
That may sound like the most obvious statement in the world, but believe it or not, you do have some degree of control over your destiny when you get charged with a crime. Who you choose to represent you can make all the difference in the world when it comes to fighting false allegations. An inexperienced attorney, or one who isn’t invested in your personal victory, can mean a wrongful conviction in the end.
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime in Michigan, you have a battle ahead and you’re going to need help from some of the best criminal defense attorneys. Call The Kronzek Firm PLC at 1 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail) today and speak to one of our top rated criminal defense attorneys. We’ve been successfully helping the people of Michigan defend themselves and their families against false allegations for decades. We can help you too!