Illinois passed a bill which was signed into law on July 30
and which will provide tuition assistance for residents who have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated.
Section 62 of the Higher Education Student Assistance Act will provide financial aid for anyone pardoned by the Illinois governor due to actual innocence or awarded a certificate of innocence by a circuit court. The funds can be used to obtain high school equivalency, undergraduate or graduate studies, part-time or full time, at any public university or public community college in the state. The law allows the student to continue to receive the funds as long as he or she remains in good academic standing for up to eight semesters or 12 quarters.
Under the state’s exoneration compensation statute, Illinois currently provides $85,350 to those who served up to five years, $170,000 for those who served between five and 14 years and $199,150 for those who served more than 14 years. The law also reimburses attorney’s fees up to 25 percent of the compensation award, provides job search and placement services, and re-entry services. The recommended federal standard is up to $63,000 per year of incarceration, with up to an additional $63,000 for each year spent on death row. It is recommended that statutes include the immediate provision of subsistence funds and access to services critical to a successful return to society, including housing, food, psychological counseling, medical and dental care, job skills training, education, and other relevant assistance needed to foster the successful rebuilding of the lives of the wrongfully convicted.
Read the amendment to the Illinois Higher Education Student Assistance Act