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08/04/2020 01:59 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=31283
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 26, 2020 02:04 PM
From: Representative James R. Roebuck, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Compensation for the Wrongfully Convicted
 
The advent of DNA testing, first accepted in 1989, has rendered indisputable the fact that our criminal justice system does not always get it right.

The National Registry of Exoneration counts more than 1,878 men and women, now free, who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated since 1989.

In Pennsylvania, 58 men and women who collectively spent nearly 684 years behind bars, have been exonerated.

While these fellow citizens have been freed, manifest injustice continues because Pennsylvania offers them no support and no compensation for their lost years and lives.

It is long overdue for Pennsylvania to move one step further to right the terrible wrong they have suffered by providing some level of compensation for our exonerees.

That’s why I will once again introduce legislation that will authorize those wrongfully convicted to receive compensation from the state as follows:
  • A sum equal to twice the amount of the gross wages of the plaintiff earned in the year prior to his arrest or $25,000, whichever is greater, for each year of wrongful imprisonment;
  • Reasonable attorney fees and court costs incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the wrongful conviction; and
  • Restitution of all fines, surcharges and penalties incurred by the plaintiff as a result of the wrongful conviction.
Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey and New York, is in the minority of states that has no provision for compensation. This legislation would not cause an undue expense because there are only 58 exonerees in Pennsylvania to date.

With technological advances, there is sure to be no shortage of innocent men and women languishing in prison who, if they are able to sustain the arduous process of proving their innocence, must then file costly, hard-to-win lawsuits to rebuild their lives.

When an individual's liberty is taken in error for a public purpose, the preservation of public safety through the operation of the criminal justice system, the right to compensation should be recognized. The government should compensate an individual whose liberty was wrongfully taken.

I urge you to join me in co-sponsoring this long overdue remedy to the years of hardship endured by those wrongfully convicted of crimes.



Introduced as HB2466