Rep. Amore introduces bill providing compensation for wrongfully convicted

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Gregg Amore has introduced legislation (2016-H
7749)
that would allow those who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, and have been
imprisoned for more than a year, to petition the Superior Court for an award of
compensation and damages, including their attorney fees. This law would not affect
wrongful convictions that were the result of misfeasance or malfeasance by the
state.
«It is a sad reality in our state and across the country that innocent people are
sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. Because our criminal justice system
is not infallible and because there have been significant advances in forensic
science, there is a need for this legislation. I think that it is more than fair
that the victims of wrongful incarceration be compensated for their unjust
imprisonment and that Rhode Island join the thirty other states that already provide
compensation for this injustice,» said Representative Amore (D-Dist. 65, East
Providence).
The legislation provides several criteria that must be met in order for compensation
to be granted, including, the claimant for compensation was imprisoned solely for
the crimes they were mistakenly convicted of and was not serving another sentence
concurrently or as a result of an enhancement from a previous conviction.
The award of compensation would be calculated at the state’s median single person
income at the time of release and paid for each year served in prison. The award
may also be expanded to at the discretion of the court in the interest of justice.
The monetary award will be provided by the General Treasurer from the state’s
general fund. The law would also not hinder any civil attempts to secure damages
for convictions based on malfeasance on the part of the state.
The legislation is currently before the House Committee on Judiciary.