Adam Liptak's latest Sidebar column in today's New York Times is, "Out of Prison? For Some, That Might Mean Out of Luck." Here's the beginning:
Eric C. Wilson is no longer behind bars. But he is not free.
Mr. Wilson is one of the sailors known as the Norfolk Four, and there is every reason to think he is innocent of the rape charge that sent him to prison for more than seven years. But the conviction stands, and that means he must register as a sex offender.
He wants to clear his name, and last week the Supreme Court indicated interest in his case. All Mr. Wilson asks for is a hearing on his challenge to his conviction. But lower courts have slammed the door on him, reasoning that it is too late to consider a petition for a writ of habeas corpus because he is no longer in custody.
Mr. Wilson is working as an electrician in Texas. He was composed and polite when we spoke on Friday evening, though he sounded weary of talking about his lot. He would rather, he said, get ready for the Easter weekend. He had family coming in.
But it takes time to tick off all the ways in which the effects of his conviction will linger for the rest of his life. There is the stigma, of course. He must report to the police in person every year, keep them posted about changes in his life and check in with local authorities if he travels.
Then there are the blows that really sting. He is not eligible for jobs on many government sites. He wanted to go to Niagara Falls for his honeymoon but could not get a passport to cross to the Canadian side. He cannot adopt his young stepson.
Earlier coverage of the Norfolk Four case begins at the link.