People who were wrongfully convicted would be entitled to $60,000 for each year they spent in prison under legislation unveiled Thursday at the state Capitol.
Michigan is in the minority of states that don’t automatically compensate innocent people who were improperly convicted. More than 30 states and the federal government pay people who were wrongly imprisoned. Typically, part of the deal is an agreement not to sue.
But state Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) says an innocent person who was imprisoned shouldn’t have to sue.
“I don’t think anybody out there would disagree that if somebody was innocent of a crime and they spent time in prison, they shouldn’t be somehow made whole,” he says. “This is an attempt to do that.”
Bieda says Michigan typically has one or two people released a year because new evidence proves their innocence. He says the state should also provide more support services for wrongfully convicted people after they’re released.
“As a state, we failed them in their cases” says state Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “And now that they’re out, now that they they’ve been cleared, either through DNA evidence or some other types of very, very solid evidence in the courts, I think it’s our responsibility to try and make them whole again.”
Democrats and Republicans – including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) -- have signed on as supporters. Bieda says that gives him hope the legislation will be adopted in this session of the Legislature.