An editorial this week in the St. Petersburg Times examines the case of Alan Crotzer, who was exonerated through DNA testing in 2006 after serving 24 years in prison for a rape and kidnapping he didn’t commit. Crotzer has been out for two years, but has yet to receive any kind of compensation from the state of Florida, which is not among the 22 states with standing laws compensating the wrongfully convicted.
Crotzer and his advocates are working this year to pass a “private” bill that would provide him the compensation he deserves; such bills only apply to one individual, rather than to anyone who has been proven innocent. The editorial calls for a systemic solution. A bill proposed by State Sen. Arthenia Joyner would compensate the wrongfully convicted with up to $100,000 for each year of wrongful conviction. Passing this bill, the newspaper says, should be a priority for state lawmakers.
The Legislature has a responsibility to address an issue it has kicked down the road for years: compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Lawmakers need to put aside their differences and bring Florida into the ranks of those states that have an automatic system for providing recompense to people wrongly incarcerated – sometimes for decades. It is not just a duty but a moral imperative.
Read the full story here
. (St. Petersburg Times, 01/29/08)
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