Those who have been wrongfully convicted not only faced with time behind bars. They also faced financial hardships and years stripped from their lives; they lost loved ones – people they will never get back. They deserve compensation for their losses, but not all states have made this happen.
Last week, Wyoming lawmakers took a look at two bills that are aimed at helping those who have been wrongfully convicted, and one of which is a way to receive compensation. This bill will allow wrongfully convicted men and women to receive $100 for everyday they were imprisoned, with a limit of $500,000. Read more.
In a Wisconsin case, Robert Stinson spent over twenty years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. He asked for $129,000 in compensation, but only received $25,000. Since then, the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly have been working to pass a bill to give him the compensation he deserves. In November, the Senate passed a bill for $136,000 in compensation, and last Tuesday, the Assembly answered with a $90,000 version of the bill. Wisconsin legislature should not only be working right now to compensate Robert Stinson, but should be working to pass legislature for all persons who have and will be wrongfully imprisoned. Read more.
At the end of February, Alaska lawmakers introduced a bill that both prevents wrongful convictions, and aims at compensating those who have been exonerated from wrongful convictions. With this bill, the exonerated would receive $50,000 a year for every year they were incarcerated, up to $2 million. Read More.
In Mississippi, Frank Sanders Tipton was compensated about $41,000 for the 300 days he spent in prison, but was given nothing for the two years he spent under house arrest. Tipton sued the Jackson County Circuit Court for the two years he spent under house arrest because he believes that house arrest is simply another form of incarceration. However, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied Tipton’s appeal. Read more.
In New York, lawmakers are working on legislature to ensure that all who have been wrongfully convicted have a way to receive compensation, something that we have yet to do in Florida. Florida law allows $50,000 a year in compensation, up to $2 million for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned and then exonerated, and additional money for any fees they the exoneree paid and has proof of during trial and conviction. However, there is a limitation in this statute – if the exoneree has a felony conviction prior to or picks one up during his wrongful imprisonment, he is disqualified to receive any compensation from the State. Read more about that here. In contrast, New York does not offer any money to any exoneree who has pleaded guilty to a crime, even after they have been proven innocent.
It has become apparent that across the country, and here at home in Florida, that all who have been wrongfully convicted should receive compensation for the time spent in prison, and many lawmakers are now beginning to realize this fact. Currently, Florida is working on a new piece of legislature to amend the current compensation statute.
As always, there are steps being made in the right direction, but we are still a long way from where we should be, as only 29 states offer compensation at all. Only one third of exonerees have been compensated in the United States, and most of those have not received any amount close to what was fair for their time spent in prison. However, this issue has proven to be one that we can have faith in, as in 2009, Texas passed a bill to offer $80,000 per year for wrongful imprisonment, which is $30,000 per year more than Florida.