A Needed Reform: Compensation in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Law Journal this week highlighted the work of the Wisconsin Innocence Project and several reforms being considered in the state.
The article featured Mike Piaskowski, who served nearly six years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He was cleared on appeal (by non-DNA evidence), but has yet to be compensated.
Seven years after his exoneration, Piaskowski recalls how his elation quickly evolved into frustration because of insufficient support from the state after his release.
“I lost everything I worked 46 years of my blue-collar life to achieve,” said Piaskowski, now 59. “And I have received nothing from the state. Zero.”
current Wisconsin compensation law
grants only $25,000 in total compensation to those who qualify as wrongfully convicted. It ranks last among the 25 states that offer compensation. In addition, Wisconsin provides no educational, professional or emotional assistance to exonerees.
State Sen. Lena C. Taylor, who chairs the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary and Corrections Committee, said the time has come for lawmakers to improve exoneree compensation.
“A review of the compensation levels for persons wrongfully incarcerated is certainly past due. The Judiciary Committees in both houses will need to commit themselves to a serious review of those statutes, and be prepared to have a constructive dialog on the subject, including its implications for the state’s budget.”
Read the full story here
. (Wisconsin Law Journal, 10/20/08)
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