Willie “Pete” Williams was exonerated in 2007 after serving 22 years in Georgia prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Williams was a client of the Georgia Innocence Project. Exonerees nationwide receive little or no government assistance immediately upon their release, and Georgia is one of the 27 states with no state law providing some exonerees with compensation after an application and approval process.
But Georgia lawmakers have passed laws compensating three of the state’s seven exonerees individually, and the state Senate yesterday approved a bill that would pay Williams $1.2 million over 20 years. The bill will now move to the House.
Seven Georgia convicts have been cleared by DNA evidence. In every case, the men were wrongly convicted based on eyewitness accounts.
Despite that, a House bill sponsored by state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, D-Atlanta, which would have provided more training for police when dealing with witness ID procedures failed to move this legislative session.
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. (Associated Press, 04/02/08