Florida’s Wrongful Incarceration Act restricts compensation for exonerees


The Wrongful Incarceration Act which recently passed in the Florida Legislature and is pending signature from the Florida Governor, offers $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration to exonerees. Only three of the nine people exonerated through DNA testing in the state of Florida have received compensation for the time they served unjustly. Both Wilton Dedge and Alan Crotzer endured months of battling with the State Legislature before receiving compensation through private bills that applied only to them. A third Florida exoneree, Jerry Frank Townsend, just received a settlement last week after fighting for compensation since his release in 2001.

Several of those who have not yet been compensated would be restricted from receiving funds through the Wrongful Incarceration Act because of a “clean hands” provision which disallows compensation for anyone with an unrelated prior felony conviction. None of the other 23 states that provide compensation to the wrongfully convicted restrict funds in this way.

An article in the Tallahassee Democrat outlines the controversy around the bill:

Advocates for the wrongfully incarcerated say they will wait to see how the process works, but they have doubts whether all the proven innocent will be compensated.

"You're innocent when we release you but you're not innocent enough to be compensated?" said Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida. "These two ideas just don't jibe together."

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