A change to the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act is now in effect. The updated Florida law seeks to make it easier for more exonerees to receive compensation for their wrongful incarceration.
Before the change took effect Sunday, a person wrongfully convicted of any crime could receive compensation from the state, only if they did not have a prior felony record. That fell under the so-called Clean Hands provision, and former Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) says it meant very few inmates received compensation because they—for example—stole a pack of beer in the past.
“This, now, would allow persons who committed minor crimes to be able to be compensated, if it was proven that they had been wrongfully incarcerated,” said Joyner. “So, it was a great improvement on the Clean Hands provision.”
Joyner was responsible for the initial 2008 law, but was forced to add the Clean Hands provision to get the bill over the finish line. For years, she tried to get rid of that provision, but term limits forced her out of the legislature before she could.
Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) solely took over the issue in the Florida Senate this year. Through a compromise with the House, the updated law now only precludes those with violent felony records from receiving compensation.
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