News 04.04.08

Florida exoneree to be compensated after 24 years in prison

The Florida State Senate approved a bill yesterday that would compensate exoneree Alan Crotzer $1.25 million for the 24 years he spent behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. The bill will move to the desk of Gov. Charlie Crist, who has said he will sign it. Crotzer will become only the second of nine Florida exonerees to receive state compensation after exoneration. The state is one of 27 that lack a law compensating the wrongfully convicted. In a column in yesterday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Michael Mayo called for a better system to compensate Florida’s exonerated:

It's up to wronged individuals to lobby the Legislature for compensation, an inconsistent and maddening process. Last year, the Senate didn't take up Crotzer's claims bill. So far, only one of Florida's nine DNA-exonerated inmates, Wilton Dedge, has gotten a claims bill passed ($2 million in 2005).

A less capricious system could soon arrive, with the Legislature considering a broader bill (HB1025) that would set an automatic process for the wrongfully convicted. It would cap payment at $50,000 per year of imprisonment or $2 million.

And Mayo was in the audience when Crotzer spoke this week at Nova Southeastern University.

"I just want to let you know there are a lot of Alan Crotzers out there," (Crotzer) said.

Crotzer went away at 21. He got his life back at 45.

He now works a $9.50-an-hour job for a landscaping firm in Tallahassee. He got married last year, has two stepchildren, 14 and 12. He voted for the first time in January. He got his first passport two months ago.

"I just want to be an average person," he said.


Read the full column here

. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 04/02/08)

Read more coverage of Crotzer’s compensation:

Associated Press:

Crotzer compensation $1.25 million approved

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