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Advocates: Few People Compensated Under Wrongful Conviction Law; Law Needs A Change

Only a few people convicted of crimes they did not commit have been compensated since a Florida law passed four years ago. Some advocates say it’s unlikely many other people wrongfully convicted will get paid by the state, if that law remains unchanged.

Under a current Florida law, a total of just three people have received a combined total of $3.2 million as compensation for wrongful imprisonment. And, Innocence Project Executive Director Seth Miller says that number may stay that way for awhile.

“If we look at the folks who’ve already been exonerated, of the folks that have not been compensated, all of them have some disqualifying factor that would exclude them from compensation under the current statute," said Miller. "Most of them have a prior felony conviction, or a conviction they picked up while they were in prison, which pursuant to the statute would make them ineligible for compensation.”

Legislation has been filed in the Florida Senate every year since the law passed to overturn or change the exclusion, but Miller says efforts always stall because advocates have trouble finding a House sponsor. Miller says the only other option for former prisoners is to file a claims bill, which is not always a guarantee.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.