UPDATE, December 22, 2016: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the “Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act” on Tuesday. This new legislation will provide people who were exonerated of wrongful convictions in Michigan with $50,000 per year of imprisonment as well as some restitution for attorney fees and other expenses. According to michiganradio.org, there are approximately three dozen exonerees who will be eligible for compensation under the new law.
“We applaud Gov. Snyder and the state for enacting this law. It is a necessary step towards providing the crucial resources that exonerees need when reintegrating into mainstream society. Now, wrongfully convicted Michiganders will have an opportunity to seek the compassionate assistance they deserve,” said Amol Sinha, state policy advocate for the Innocence Project.
Originally published on December 8, 2016: This week, the Michigan House approved a bill— the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act—to compensate people who’ve been exonerated of wrongful convictions. Over the past 25 years, 66 people in Michigan have been exonerated of crimes they did not commit. With no compensation law in place, these individuals had to forge ahead with their new lives without the financial means to do so. This legislation would offer Michigan exonerees much needed support, providing them with $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration.
Last year, a local news station featured a story on Donya Davis, who was exonerated in 2014 in Michigan of a 2007 armed rape and robbery. Davis was asking state lawmakers to strongly consider passing a compensation law. Surviving life post-exoneration with no financial footing was nearly impossible, he stressed.
At the time of the story, Davis was in dire straits financially. “I couldn’t even feed my children. I’m barely feeding myself. I couldn’t get a job based on their [the state’s] mistake,” Davis told FOX 17 West Michigan.
State Senator Steve Beida (D-Warren), sponsor of the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, has been working for more than a decade to get this legislation passed. The next step and last step to making this bill law is getting Governor Rick Synder’s signature, which advocates are hopeful will happen.
“They’re not going to get rich off this,” said State Senator Steve Beida to WEMU, “but it will give them the chance to do something that’s meaningful and allow them to move forward. We can’t bring them their time back. We can’t bring back the time they’ve lost with their families, the ability to establish a career, everyday things we take for granted, we can at least when we release these people onto the street, we can give them the ability to have a decent life.”