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March 07, 2013 08:42 AM UTC

WRONGFUL INCARCERATION COMPENSATION BILL SET FOR HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

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  • by: dictionhound

At 1:30 Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hear House Bill 13-1230.  The bill would allow for state compensation for persons or immediate family members of those wrongly convicted of a felony or wrongly adjudicated or wrongly incarcerated.

 

The bill is sponsored by Representatives Angela Williams (D) and Dan Pabon (D) in the House and Lucia Guzman (D) in the Senate.  Compensation for an exonerated person would equal $70,000 for every year of incarceration.  An additional $50,000 would be provided each year for those that wrongfully spent time on death row.  Exonerated individuals who spent time on parole or  had to register as sex offenders would receive an addition $25,000.  The bill looks to balance the fallibility of the justice system.

 

“The court and lawyers sometimes make mistakes, it can lead to the wrongful loss of liberty or even life.  No human being is infallible yet we rely on it every day to make life or death decisions,” said Dan Schoen, Executive Director of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. “We can never make up for what was done to people like Rob Dewey and Tim Masters, but HB1230 will help people that were wrongfully incarcerated by the government  pick up the broken pieces of their lives”

 

Along with monetary compensation, the exonerated would be required to take financial management courses to receive compensation after the first year.  HB 13-1230 will also cover tuition at in-state colleges for the exonerated and their children who served incarceration sentences of 3 or more years.  

 

Compensation laws exist in other states, yet these systems alone do no solve the fallibility problem. As Dan Schoen points out, “Texas has the most generous exoneree compensation system, unfortunately there have been innocent people like Cameron Todd Willingham who were executed in Texas and never got the compensation.”

 

The compensation procedure would provide a 60 day period for the attorney general and the district attorney to support eligibility for compensation or to contest eligibility and innocence.  If innocence is contested, the district court will conduct a trial with the burden of proof on the petitioner or wrongly convicted to prove their innocence.

 

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