Earl Bain was wrongfully convicted in Malheur County in 2009 and spent six years in prison. After the complaining witness in his case recanted her story, with the help of the Oregon Innocence Project he was pardoned on the grounds of innocence by Gov. Kate Brown in August 2020.
For over six years of my life, I was wrongfully incarcerated in an Oregon prison. I was convicted in Malheur County of a crime I did not commit and falsely labeled as having abused my own child. I was living a nightmare, but I couldn’t wake up.
Last year, Gov. Kate Brown granted me a pardon on the grounds of my innocence, the first time she has issued a pardon on that basis. I no longer carry the labels of “felon” or “sex offender” but the problems stemming from my wrongful conviction are far from over.
Due to my conviction, I lost the good career I had in the military and can’t go back to it. I am a combat veteran who served my country in Afghanistan, but that didn’t count for anything when the state took everything from me and sent me to prison.
Trying to overcome all of this has been a tremendous struggle for me and my family. The stigma of my wrongful conviction is such that every time I meet someone new, I have had to worry about what they are thinking about me. I have had to try to find words to explain that I’m not who my conviction said I was.
I’m free now, and my innocence has been recognized, but I’m still trying to rebuild my life. I had to start over when I got out of prison and the challenges I face have not come to an end just because I no longer have the wrongful conviction on my record.
People like me are just asking for a fair shot. We lost everything and it was the criminal justice system that took it from us. I believe it’s time for Oregon to recognize exonerees and address the harm that has been done to us. I am an innocent man, but those are just words. How can the state be allowed to take everything away from me and shrug its shoulders after I am exonerated?