Kansas Legislature Passes Wrongful Conviction Compensation Law

05.03.18 By Innocence Staff

Lamonte McIntyre at the 2018 Innocence Network Conference. Photo by Lacy Atkins.

Lamonte McIntyre at the 2018 Innocence Network Conference. Photo by Lacy Atkins.

Today, the Kansas Legislature passed one of the strongest laws in the country to compensate people who have been exonerated of wrongful convictions. The bill will now go to the governor for approval. Once he signs it, Kansas will be the 33rd state to enact a wrongful conviction compensation law.

House Bill 2579 provides exonerees with $65,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment and $25,000 for each year wrongfully served on parole, probation or the sex offender registry. Non-monetary benefits are also provided, including housing and tuition assistance, counseling, participation in the state’s health care program and financial literacy training. Additionally, the bill provides exonerees with a certificate of innocence and ensures expungement of the wrongful conviction, allowing them to clear their names and move forward in rebuilding their lives.

Related: Let’s Compensate the Innocent in All 50 States!

The passage of this legislation is momentous for Kansas exonerees like Floyd Bledsoe, Richard Jones and Lamonte McIntyre. None of the men have received any financial assistance from the state for the years unjustly taken away from them.  Bledsoe and Jones each spent 16 years wrongfully incarcerated in Kansas. McIntyre was falsely imprisoned for 23 years–more than half of his life.

All three men are now in their 40s. Each has had to confront significant financial and personal loss in their lives as a result of their wrongful convictions. McIntyre was freed from prison last October. With no source of steady income, he could not afford a new pair of glasses and had to rely on online crowdfunding to raise money to help cover his basic expenses. Bledsoe, who was exonerated in 2015, was forced to sell 40 acres of his farmland to pay for legal fees and restitution and has struggled to rebuild his life without employment or credit history.

Floyd Bledsoe at the 2017 Innocence Network Conference. Photo by Erin G. Wesley.

Passage of this legislation, which was a joint effort between the Innocence Project and the Midwest Innocence Project, would not have been possible without the voices of Kansas residents who called on their lawmakers to do what is right by the state’s exonerees. Kansas State Representatives Blaine Finch and John Carmichael, and Senators David Haley, Molly Baumgardner and Rick Wilborn were integral in developing and passing the legislation.

Kansas recently enacted eyewitness identification and recording-of-interrogation reforms to prevent wrongful convictions. With this new compensation law, the state will ensure that exonerees like Bledsoe, Jones and McIntyre will receive the financial assistance they deserve.

Lamonte McIntyre was represented by Midwest Innocence Project, Centurion & Cheryl Pilate of Pilate of Morgan Pilate LLC. Floyd Bledsoe was represented by Midwest Innocence Project and KU Law Project for Innocence. Richard Jones was represented by the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence at the University of Kansas School of Law and Midwest Innocence Project.

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Philip Slater September 10, 2018 at 6:30 pm Reply   

Is this going to be retroactive? I am currently in the process of getting a 2005 conviction with 40 months served over turned due to a wrong conviction. It would be nice if it is retroactive and I was awarded some compensation.

Lily Good May 23, 2018 at 10:12 pm Reply   

All 50 states should have to pay their innocent victims. I once was all for the death penalty. But now that I myself have been arrested and accused of committing a crime(s) that I did not commit…it’s terrifying!!! I used to have more faith in our justice system, but it’s currently failing me and apparently many others. You’d think that the truth will set you free. You’d think by coropating with law enforcement that you will be ok. You think because your innocent that can’t harm you or rip your life away, but they can. And they will.

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