LegalReader.com  ·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

What Do States Owe the Exonerated?


— May 29, 2007

States’ compensation for wrongful imprisonment ranges from zero to millions of dollars.

This month, two men – both freed last year after DNA evidence exonerated them of the crimes for which they’d been in prison – received drastically different news about how they might be compensated for those lost years.

Connecticut legislators voted to award $5 million to James Tillman to help him get his life back on track after 18 years behind bars for a rape he didn’t commit.

The Florida Legislature, on the other hand, denied Alan Crotzer’s request for $1.25 million and let a bill die that would have standardized a compensation system for victims of wrongful conviction.

“I felt so disappointed,” says Mr. Crotzer, who served more than 24 years in a Florida prison until DNA evidence cleared him of rape and kidnapping charges. He’s been working odd jobs that pay less than $300 a week since he got out. “The bottom line is, I don’t think I could ever put a price on freedom…. But they’ve got to put a system in place. [This issue] isn’t going away.”

The cases are typical results of the patchwork of compensation laws in the US, say experts. Last month, the 200th person was exonerated due to DNA evidence, but the majority of those released have gotten nothing but an apology – and sometimes not even that.

Details here from the Christian Science Monitor.


States’ compensation for wrongful imprisonment ranges from zero to millions of dollars.

This month, two men – both freed last year after DNA evidence exonerated them of the crimes for which they’d been in prison – received drastically different news about how they might be compensated for those lost years.

Connecticut legislators voted to award $5 million to James Tillman to help him get his life back on track after 18 years behind bars for a rape he didn’t commit.

The Florida Legislature, on the other hand, denied Alan Crotzer’s request for $1.25 million and let a bill die that would have standardized a compensation system for victims of wrongful conviction.

“I felt so disappointed,” says Mr. Crotzer, who served more than 24 years in a Florida prison until DNA evidence cleared him of rape and kidnapping charges. He’s been working odd jobs that pay less than $300 a week since he got out. “The bottom line is, I don’t think I could ever put a price on freedom…. But they’ve got to put a system in place. [This issue] isn’t going away.”

The cases are typical results of the patchwork of compensation laws in the US, say experts. Last month, the 200th person was exonerated due to DNA evidence, but the majority of those released have gotten nothing but an apology – and sometimes not even that.

Details here from the Christian Science Monitor.

Join the conversation!