Two newspapers published editorials this week on exoneree compensation, highlighting the unmet need that too many exonerees are facing across the country to be adequately compensated for the time they lost while in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
On Sunday, the
released an editorial calling on Ohio lawmakers to allow the wrongfully convicted to take their cases directly to Ohio’s Court of Claims for compensation. Currently the system requires exonerees to jump the unnecessary hurdle of first filing a law suit to affirm that they were indeed wrongfully convicted.
“The state has, in effect, legitimized the noxious notion that people who have been wrongly declared guilty, and suffered the consequences, must also prove their innocence to get redress,” states the editorial.
Sadly, a significant number of exonerated people in Ohio have not been awarded compensation. According to the editorial, “[t]he National Registry of Exonerations, run by the University of Michigan Law School, lists 63 wrongful convictions in Ohio since 1989. During that period, the Ohio Court of Claims awarded only 40 judgments, ranging from $11,069 to $2.5 million.”
Also this week, the
issued an editorial on Wednesday calling for Pennsylvania to join 30 other states and the District of Columbia and to pass a law to compensate wrongfully convicted individuals for the time they spent unjustly incarcerated.
The editorial cited the case of Innocence Project client Lewis “Jim” Fogle, who was released last year after spending 34 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. Fogle has struggled financially since his release, and he is not entitled to even the basic benefits that the state provides to formerly incarcerated people released on parole or after serving out their sentences. Fogle is currently relying on the kindness of his family and friends, the earnings from odd jobs and financial support from the Innocence Project.
urged legislators to follow the example of states like Texas and implement a fair compensation statute so that Pennsylvanians like Fogle can rebuild their lives and live out their remaining years in stability and comfort.