After being released from prison, innocent people who were wrongfully convicted could receive more compensation under a bill being considered at the Capitol. Keith Findley is with the Wisconsin Innocence Project at U-W Madison. “The sad truth is that in Wisconsin today a guilty person released from prison on parole or extended supervision gets more support from the state than an actual innocent person wrongly convicted freed from prison.”
Findley says Wisconsin’s compensation levels are the lowest in the nation and it has not changed since 1980. The state offers $5,000 per year with a lifetime cap of $25,000. Findley calls that “woefully inadequate.” The Wrongly Convicted Reentry Act (AB-452) would increase the state’s maximum compensation to equal the federal level — $50,000 per year with no lifetime limit. It would also provide transitional assistance as prisoners reintegrate back into society.
Findley says, “When a person commits a crime he pays a debt to society. When a person serves time for a crime he did not commit society owes him a debt. AB-452 represents a major down payment on that debt.”
This bill is not about assigning blame, says Findley, rather it’s an attempt to provide compassionate assistance to people whose lives have been devastated.
The Assembly Judiciary and Ethics Committee heard testimony on the bill Thursday.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:32