The criminal justice system in the United States is designed to ensure that those who commit crimes are held accountable for their actions. While the goal is noble, the system is not perfect, sometimes convicting innocent people and sending them to jail. For example, four people in Virginia convicted of rape are asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe for pardons.
The requests involve the rape and murder of a woman in 1997; although DNA evidence implicated a fifth person who claimed he acted alone, four sailors were also convicted. Three of the men, still on parole for their conviction, have recently had their convictions overturned. After a great deal of skepticism regarding the convictions from prosecutors and FBI agents, a judge ruled that no sane person could find them guilty. The judge further noted that evidence indicates that the man implicated by DNA acted alone. The men claim that they were coerced by police into giving false confessions.
A fourth man has had trouble seeking legal recourse because he had already completed his sentence when the challenge was brought. However, his rape conviction forces him to register as a sex offender and prevents him from adopting his stepson. His only hope to have his conviction overturned is by a pardon from Gov. McAuliffe. A representative for the governor indicates that he is carefully considering the request.
For some people in Virginia convicted of rape or other criminal acts, their fight does not end at conviction. In many cases, a convicted person may pursue an appeal or, ultimately, a pardon. Having a person with experience regarding criminal law throughout all stages of a case can help a person understand all available options before or after a conviction.
Source: ABC News, "APNewsBreak: 'Norfolk Four' Seek Pardons From Va. Governor", Alanna Durkin Richer, Dec. 8, 2016