A House committee approved a bill that would provide money to exonerated prisoners. And its proponents expect they will need to revise it to keep it moving forward.
Rep. Greg Steuerwald’s (R-Danville) would create a fund to pay each exonerated person $25,000 for every year spent behind bars. Steuerwald says the state currently does more for guilty convicts leaving prison than it does for the innocent.
“Innocent people who are let out of DOC because of an exoneration issue … we have no means, nothing in statute, to provide any services for them whatsoever,” Steuerwald says.
Steuerwald acknowledges that his bill needs changes.
Attorney Amol Sinha from the Innocence Project points out that the bill only provides money for those exonerated by DNA evidence. He says of the 23 people exonerated in Indiana since 1989, 14 were freed through non-DNA evidence.
“We’d be excluding them from relief, which seems to me inherently unfair,” Sinha says.
Sinha also wants the compensation raised – suggesting $50,000, roughly Indiana’s median income.
Steuerwald says he views his $25,000 amount as a starting point.