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Compensation for People Who Have Been Wrongfully Imprisoned

Posted on in Criminal Defense

wrongfully imprisoned, Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers, criminal charges, exoneree compensation, criminal defenseWhen a person is accused of a crime in the United States, he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty—our legal system is meant to protect the innocent. However, all too often, miscarriages of justice occur, and people are convicted of crimes they did not commit.

When someone is wrongfully imprisoned and he or she is later exonerated, the individual deserves to be compensated for the time he or she was incarcerated. Unfortunately, the amount of compensation that exonerees are eligible to receive is often inadequate.

Compensation for Exonerees in Wisconsin

Under current Wisconsin law, a person who was convicted of a crime and served a prison sentence but was later found to be innocent can petition the state claims board for relief. However, the amount of compensation he or she can receive is limited to $5,000 per year of imprisonment and a total of $25,000. This statutory compensation cap is the lowest of any state in the United States.

Although rare, additional measures may be taken to compensate people for wrongful imprisonment. For example, in 2014, the Wisconsin state legislature passed a bill that granted an additional $90,000 on top of the $25,000 maximum compensation provided to a man who was imprisoned for 23 years for a first-degree murder he did not commit.

In 2016, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill that would raise the compensation limit to $50,000 per year of imprisonment, with a total award cap of $1 million. This bill would bring Wisconsin’s statutory compensation cap in line with federal standards. Unfortunately, it failed to pass the State Senate, and Wisconsin continues to offer minimal compensation to exonerees.

Advocates for reform believe that changes to Wisconsin’s statutory compensation amounts are sorely needed. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 56 people have been exonerated in Wisconsin since 1989, resulting in a total of 378 years of wrongful imprisonment and an average of 6.75 years in prison per exoneree. While monetary compensation cannot give back the years of their lives that these people have lost, it can help them get back on their feet as they work to reenter society.

Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges or if you have been wrongfully convicted for a crime, the skilled attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can help you understand your rights and work to make sure that justice is carried out correctly. Contact our Milwaukee, WI criminal defense lawyers at 414-271-1440.

Sources:

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/775/05

http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/Exonerations-in-the-United-States-Map.aspx

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/payments-boosted-to-those-wrongly-convicted-in-wisconsin-under-bipartisan/article_c9460ad2-3dbe-5114-91c0-b653a008b1f5.html

http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/proposals/ab460

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