Senators: Ease Compensation For Exonerees

Mar 2, 2015

A Senate panel has unanimously approved a proposal making it easier for the wrongfully convicted to get state compensation.

The bi-partisan measure, by Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa and Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, sailed through the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday.

Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa and Sen. Rob Bradly, R-Orange Park, want the wrongly convicted with prior non-violent felonies to qualify for state compensation.
Credit Florida Senate

It’s one of the criminal justice system’s worst mistakes – convicting the wrong suspect. But when it comes to paying them back for years spent behind bars, the state sets a high standard – nobody with a prior felony conviction qualifies.

That’s too high, Bradley says.

“[I] just don’t think it’s right for that individual not to be eligible if we’ve wrongfully incarcerated them for years.”

The bill lowers the standard, barring only exonerees with violent felonies.

The Innocence Project of Florida fights for the wrongly convicted. Seth Miller is the executive director:

“The Innocence Project of Florida obviously supports anything that helps innocent individuals who have been exonerated to get compensated and treats all exonerees equally.”

Florida created a compensation plan in 2008, the year Alan Crotzer was released after spending nearly a quarter century behind bars. The state paid Crotzer $1.2 million. Crotzer made headlines again when he was arrested for attempted murder in 2013. Those charges were dropped.

The state pays the wrongfully convicted $50,000 a year for each year behind bars, with a $2 million cap.