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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 31, 2020 02:18 PM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb
To: All House members
Subject: Compensating innocent Pennsylvanians exonerated for wrongful convictions
Pennsylvania is one of only 15 states without a law to compensate the innocent for the years lost in prison after a wrongful conviction.

When the state unjustly takes a person’s liberty, it has a responsibility to help repair the damage. For the wrongfully convicted, the agony of prison life is only compounded by the difficulties of reentry. With no money, housing, transportation, health services or insurance, and a criminal record that is rarely cleared despite innocence, punishment lingers long after innocence has been proven.

Without a state compensation law, the only option for exonerees to obtain financial justice is to file a federal civil rights lawsuit – an option that is time-consuming, expensive, often traumatic, and rarely successful. Taxpayers are ultimately left to pick up the tab for these lawsuits, which have cost Pennsylvanians over $29 million in civil awards.

This legislation is a critical step toward restoring the lives of the wrongfully convicted as best we can.

Those who can demonstrate proof of their innocence will be eligible for $65,000 per year spent in incarceration, in addition to much-needed social services that would help them rejoin their communities.

If like me, you believe in liberty and justice for all, please co-sponsor this important bill.