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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 29, 2020 01:52 PM
From: Representative Regina G. Young
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 2,686 men and women, now free, who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated since 1989.  In Pennsylvania, 95 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 am introducing legislation that will authorize those wrongfully convicted to receive compensation from the state for their injustice.
The wrongfully accused should be able to share in the same educational rights as the rest of us, including working towards obtaining their high school or equivalency diploma, and attending local community colleges.  Having the opportunity to seek just restitution would tear down a primary barrier to gaining the education deprived by years of unjust incarceration.  Furthermore, 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 HB1205