Friday, 16 February 2007

Wrongful Conviction: Fair compensation

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wrongful Conviction: Fair compensation


A new proposal would allow for compensation in cases of wrongful conviction and imprisonment. If the idea -- at least in part -- behind incarcerating someone is to take something away from them, it's only logical to try to somehow give something back to them for all the things that were unjustly taken away, such as freedom, livelihood, opportunity and relationships.

So what would a year of your life be worth in Washington state? At least $50,000, which would also cover time spent waiting for trial. That amount is bumped up to at least $100,000 for every year spent on death row. Also provided would be needed resources such as job training and health insurance. If House Bill 2122 passes, we would be the 22nd state to offer such compensation, although the degree of reparation varies. Although the federal government compensates the wrongfully imprisoned, it does so only in federal cases. Federal compensation is capped at $100,00 a year for those who received a death sentence. Prior to the Justice for All Act of 2004, that amount was limited to $5,000 a year.

"It is a sense of Congress that states should provide reasonable compensation to any person found to have been unjustly convicted on an offense against the state and sentenced to death," reads the last paragraph of the act.

It shouldn't have taken this long for us to do it, and we can't help but wish that the bill went even further, in terms of flagging the records of prosecutors with several wrongful convictions.


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