Another injustice has been dumped on the Camden defendants whose convictions were thrown out amid a police corruption probe.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office has overturned drug convictions and other charges in at least 185 cases. But many of the suspects - including some who spent time behind bars for those crimes - have yet to receive notice that their convictions were overturned.
The cases were dismissed in the wake of a widening federal investigation into a rogue operation run by several police officers who allegedly routinely stole drugs and money from suspects, made false arrests, and lied to cover up their illicit actions.
That mockery of the criminal justice system has been made worse by the failure to advise defendants that charges against them have been dropped. Some only learned about the police scandal after being contacted by Inquirer reporters.
No one had told Dayna Hinton, who spent more than five months in jail for buying a $10 bag of crack, that her 2007 conviction was tossed out last month.
Without being told, defendants who may have been falsely arrested are unlikely to know that they have the option to file suit for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. Knowing their charges have been dismissed could also clear up related legal issues and outstanding fines, which could help put their lives back on track.
Prosecutors contend ethics rules bar them from directly contacting defendants whose cases were vacated. But that doesn't excuse them from working more closely with defense lawyers - most of them overburdened public defenders - to make sure that every defendant is properly notified as quickly as possible.