|December 15, 2022 01:18 PM
|Representative Christopher M. Rabb
|All House members
|Restoring the stolen liberty of wrongfully incarcerated Pennsylvanians
|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 re-entry. 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 tens of millions of dollars in civil awards.
Years in the drafting with direct involvement of many exonerees closest to the pain of this injustice, this legislation (formerly HB 2930) is a critical step toward restoring the lives of the wrongfully convicted as best we can.
A fair compensation formula based on the median household income in Pennsylvania will be created to determine the amount of recurring payments each exonerated Pennsylvanian will receive.
Additionally, this bill establishes the Exoneree Community Trust Fund, a restricted fund housed in the Office of the State Treasurer to steward funds that an investment staff will be responsible for creating an investment policy statement creating, managing these investments and reporting to members of the Fund’s investment advisory board, some of whose members may include exonerees themselves.
If you believe in liberty and justice for all, please co-sponsor this important bill.
Introduced as HB987