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The psychological effects of wrongful imprisonment

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2022 | False Arrest/False Imprisonment

Being arrested for a crime you didn’t commit is one of the biggest nightmares for any New Yorker. It’s even worse if you end up wrongfully convicted and receive a prison sentence. There are many psychological effects of false imprisonment that could plague you.

Mental health problems

If a person has been wrongfully convicted of a crime and been forced to serve prison time, they can easily develop mental health problems. This can happen to someone regardless of the crime they were incarcerated for, but more serious crimes like murder might increase the risk. Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common. Some people might even become agoraphobic after being exonerated.

Mental health disorders like depression could lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. In some situations, a person wrongfully incarcerated might even commit suicide.

Problems reentering society

Many exonerated people find it difficult to reenter society after their release from prison. If a person spent many years behind bars, they might feel lost on how to deal with being free. Sadly, being released after a wrongful conviction doesn’t automatically erase society’s opinion of the individual. While they might be innocent of the crime, the public may hold different beliefs and think they’re guilty. In addition to mental health problems, this is a big reason why victims of false imprisonment might become agoraphobic.

They often also struggle to find employment. Even if they were exonerated and don’t have to tell prospective employers about their wrongful conviction, they still have to explain why they’ve been out of the workforce for an extended period. This could lead to discrimination and trouble getting a job. There is a stigma tied to people who have been incarcerated, even if it was wrongful.

A wrongful conviction can make a person pessimistic and skeptical of the world. These feelings might linger long after exoneration.