News 01.29.14

Minnesota Legislators Introduce Compensation Bill

Two legislators are trying to remove Minnesota’s name from the list of 21 states that do not have legislation to compensate the wrongly convicted. WCCO- CBS Minneapolis reported yesterday that Senator Ron Latz (DFL- St. Louis Park) and Representative John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) have designed a bill that would give those who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned something to help them after being exonerated.

 

Unlike guilty convicted felons who are released and given parole officers to assist with housing and job placement, exonerees in Minnesota receive no such assistance. If passed, the legislation would compensate the wrongly convicted up to $700,000 and provide assistance with medical care and finding a job.

 

Michael Hansen and Koua Fong Lee, who were wrongfully convicted and later exonerated, spent six and three years behind bars, respectively, and are both hopeful that compensation will mean a new beginning for them and their families.

 

“Nothing can buy the time that I was far away from my family,” said Koua Fong Lee to WCCO-CBS.

 

Hansen and Lee joined Lantz and Lesch at the Capitol Tuesday when they introduced the bill. The legislators are hopeful that their bill will be passed in the 2014 session with support from both sides of the aisles.

 

“Today shows me a lot,” Hansen said to WCCO-CBS. “Today shows me that I’m not just a piece of paper, I’m not just someone who was warehoused.”

 

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