Rickey Johnson exonerated in Louisiana; Archie Williams still can't get a DNA test
Innocence Project client Rickey Johnson (above, with his sister) was released last week after serving 25 years in a Louisiana prison for a rape DNA proves he didn’t commit. He rejoined a large family and reconnected with his brothers, sisters and children, hugging them for the first time in a quarter century.
While Johnson’s supportive family will surely help him get on his feet, it is unclear whether he will receive state compensation to rebuild his life. Louisiana is one of 22 states with a compensation law — but the amount, at $15,000 per year of incarceration with a maximum of $150,000, is well below the federal standard of $50,000 per year. In addition, the process to receive compensation is cumbersome, and only two of the other nine Louisiana exonerees have been compensated. Luckily for Johnson, Sabine Parish District Attorney Don Burkett, who quickly agreed to DNA testing in the case and worked closely with Innocence Project lawyers to streamline the exoneration process, said he will help Johnson apply for compensation.
An editorial in Sunday’s Shreveport Times praises Burkett and asks why another District Attorney in the state — East Baton Rouge DA Doug Moreau — refuses to conduct DNA testing in similar cases. Moreau has fought against testing for 13 years in the case of Innocence Project client Archie Williams. The Times, along with Johnson and dozens of legal experts and officials, has called for testing in Williams’ case.