by Dale Chappell
Kansas has become the thirty-third state to offer compensation to those who were wrongfully convicted. The new law signed by Gov. Jeff Colyer allows exonerees to be paid $65,000 for each year that they wrongfully spent in prison and $25,000 per year wrongfully on parole or the sex offender registry.
One of those exonerees, Lamonte McIntyre, was present for the signing ceremony and said he was going to use the money to get a car and housing, something he has not been able to do since being released from prison after 23 years for a double murder he did not commit. “I can live a normal life, like everyone else,” he said of the new law. Lamonte was originally told he would get nothing from the state when he was released from prison last year.
In addition to money, the new law also provides exonerees with access to health care, education, and housing assistance, plus a certificate of innocence, which should help with employment when the criminal conviction shows up on a background check.
“Years taken from men and women who have been wrongfully convicted cannot be given back,” Colyer said upon signing the bill. “This bill will make a large step in trying to right wrongs that were done.”
Some hope the new law will push other states to do more. Next door in Missouri, exonerees receive just $18,000 for each year wrongfully imprisoned, but only if exonerated by DNA evidence. Nebraska and Oklahoma cap payments at $500,000 and $175,000, respectively.
Importantly, Kansas exonerees who were released prior to July 1 will have two years to claim compensation under the new law.
Sources: kcur.org, usnews.com
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