News 08.27.13

Is Louisiana’s Compensation Law Enough?

Louisiana is among the 29 states plus Washington, D.C. that has a compensation law for the wrongly convicted, but several Louisiana exonerees said it doesn’t make up for the injustice of being locked up and everything that comes with it, reported

The Advocate

.

 

Louisiana’s compensation statute provides $25,000 per year of wrongful incarceration with a cap of $250,000 plus up to $80,000 for loss of life opportunities for exonerees who have proved factual innocence. For

John Thompson

, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1985 murder and sent to death row, the money can’t give him back the 18 years he lost while behind bars.


“It was like hell. It was worse than hell,” said Thompson, now 50, of the 14 years he spent on Death Row. “If that is not cruel and unusual punishment, not only to you but to your whole family, then I don’t know what is.”

While facing his seventh execution date, a private investigator hired by his appellate attorneys discovered scientific evidence of Thompson’s innocence that had been concealed for 15 years by the New Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. When he released and exonerated in 2003, the state of Louisiana gave him $10 and a bus ticket. He sued the District Attorney’s Office. A jury awarded him $14 million, one for each year on death row. When Louisiana appealed, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2011, Justice Clarence Thomas issued the majority 5-4 decision in

Connick v. Thompson

that the prosecutor’s office could not be held liable.

 

Thompson and other exonerees like

Rickie Johnson

, who served more than a decade in prison, are shortchanged by the law that only entitles them compensation for 10 years.


“I don’t think exonerees like myself that spent a quarter century in prison for a crime they didn’t commit should be scuffling as hard as we’re scuffling,” said Johnson, who learned leather work at Angola and opened a shop in Leesville after winning his freedom. “I’ve been out since 2008, and I still can’t afford to buy my home as every grown-up should have at my age.”

Rep. Herbert B. Dixon (D-Alexandria) plans to reintroduce a bill next legislative session that would double the current compensation rate. He would also like establish a court cost dedicated to fund the state’s Innocence Compensation Fund.

 

Read the

full article

.

 

National View:

29 States Have Compensation Statutes: Is Yours One?


 

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  1. corners burq says:

    They should compensate them much much more.
    Because the power the district attorney has, how can they not be held accountable for their actions? Because of rulings like this DA’s can just charge into anything without worrying about the consequences, a lot like street cops.
    Because there’s no penalties for messing up, they don’t have to be careful.

  2. Earl Truvia says:

    At the age of 17th,I was Wrongful arrested, charged, convicted at 18th and sentenced to a Life sentenced with 40 years parole eligible. Based upon the criminal corruption perpetuated with fabricated evidence from the inception of the investigation.The District Attorney’s Office and New Orleans Police Department are equally Guilty of Violating my Human Rights to Fairness, Justice and the Truth which,
    RESULTED To (27.5 ) years of my life that’s irreparable.

Thanks for your comment

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