There was much rejoicing last month when Clarence Shipley Jr., 47, was completely cleared of all criminal charges in a Baltimore city courtroom after serving 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The exoneration was the result of investigative work by UB School of Law’s Innocence Project Clinic and the State’s Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit.
But as Brianna Ford, Innocence Project clinical teaching fellow and staff attorney, wrote in a Jan. 4 Baltimore Sun op-ed, “The state can do nothing to make up for the 27-year gap in his work experience as he is now faced with finding a job. Struggling to meet basic needs is not a burden that exonerees and their families should shoulder after already having endured decades of wrongful imprisonment.
“The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office has apologized to Mr. Shipley, but now the state must do more. The state needs to provide compensation.”
Ms. Ford describes recent efforts by the Maryland legislature to compensate the exonerated, including amendments to legislation that never made it to a Senate vote in last year’s session.
“When the legislature convenes for the 2019 legislative session, compensation should be a top priority,” she argues. “Mr. Shipley waited far too long for his freedom, he shouldn’t have to wait for compensation too.”