Sen. Latz: State should aid the wrongly convicted
Across the country, 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government all have compensation statutes for the wrongfully imprisoned. Minnesota is one of 21 states that do not. Wrongful convictions are rare, but when a person is exonerated the current system does little to ease their transition back into society.
Those who are wrongfully convicted often experience difficulty resuming their lives once released from prison. They often have no money, housing, transportation, health care, and a criminal record that is rarely cleared. Additionally, they often suffer from psychological consequences that stem from being deprived of family, friends, and the ability to build a career.
Senator Ron Latz (Golden Valley) has introduced legislation that would require that people who are wrongfully imprisoned in Minnesota be assisted in the following ways:
- Monetary compensation awarded at the discretion of an administrative law judge based on circumstances prior to being imprisoned.
- Access to post-release services currently afforded to criminals, including:
- Financial support for basic necessities
- Medical/dental care
- Help finding a job
- Official acknowledgment of a wrongful conviction
- Compensation would be capped at $700,000
In order to receive compensation a person must have been convicted or a crime and served any part of their sentence in prison, been exonerated on grounds consistent with innocence (defined in Sec. 2, subd. 2 of the bill), not committed any of the crimes for which relief is sought, not fabricated evidence to bring about the conviction, not been serving a different term of imprisonment on an alternate crime at the same time.