Will legislature try again for wrongful imprisonment compensation?

For at least the last four years, the Michigan Legislature has not passed proposed bills aimed at compensating the wrongfully imprisoned. And there would be no reason to believe that this year would be any different.

Except that the bill aimed at providing compensation to people who have been wrongfully locked up is tied to a bill that would tax any compensation received for lost wages.

Senate Bill 61, was referred late last year to the House Judiciary Committee, which was scheduled to hear testimony on it this week. The committee hearing was canceled, but the bill is still in the committee’s hopper. The bill would compensate those who were imprisoned in a state correctional facility, and whose convictions are later vacated or found not guilty in a retrial. Further, the person would have to have DNA or other evidence to support his or her innocence.

The wrongfully convicted person could be compensated up to $40,000 per year for each year he or she was in prison, economic damages including lost wages and costs associated with defense, and reasonable attorney fees.

Senate Bill 60 would tax the income for years beginning after Dec. 31, 2010, and would be passed only if Senate Bill 61 passes.

Now that seems like progress.

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