News 12.21.09

Compensating the Exonerated in New Jersey

Just weeks after a new

Innocence Project report

revealed devastating gaps in the support states provide to people exonerated after serving years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, New Jersey’s Star Ledger ran an editorial this weekend about the serious need for the state to improve compensation laws immediately.

The Star Ledger writes:

Under New Jersey's current unjust conviction law, a prisoner who is exonerated can receive up to $20,000 for each year spent in prison, or twice what the person earned in the year before imprisonment, whichever is greater.

A bill proposed by Senate President Richard Codey would raise the limit to $50,000, which is the federal standard. After five years the amount would be adjusted for inflation. The bill also would allow a court to order other services, such as vocational training, counseling and assistance with tuition, housing or health insurance “as appropriate.”…

Clearly, the current law is inadequate. Offering fair compensation to an innocent person who was wrongly imprisoned is simply the right thing to do.

To date, in New Jersey, there have been

five people wrongfully convicted

, incarcerated and eventually released since 1995.  All five men were released based on DNA evidence and all five men filed civil suits to recover additional damages.  The proposed statute would apply to the pending cases.

Even though New Jersey is one of the 27 states to compensate the wrongfully convicted, it still falls short.  There is still a lot of room for improvement with financial support and social services which is why it’s necessary for New Jersey to pass the proposed bill.

Read the full editorial

here

.

Read more about the need for

compensation

and

existing shortcomings

in legislation here.

 

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