By Luke Kyaw
FRANKFORT, KY – Late last month, Kentucky Representative Jason Nemes introduced House Bill 691, which would create a compensation fund for those that suffered from wrongful convictions and incarceration.
Most other states have some kind of mechanism to compensate people falsely imprisoned and then exonerated.
Under this bill, wrongfully convicted individuals can be eligible to receive up to $137 for each day of their imprisonment. Part of the funding for the compensation fund will come from court fees.
If passed into law, the bill will finally provide a financial safety net for victims of wrongful convictions in the criminal system to bounce back into society.
According to The Kentucky Innocence Project and the Prison Policy Initiative, two to six percent of people who have been convicted are wrongfully convicted, which amounts to around 1,600 people in Kentucky.
That constitutes 1,600 innocent people who were put behind bars and did not even receive any compensation for the time they spent in prison after they were exonerated and released.
Johnetta Carr, a wrongfully convicted individual who is now an advocate of criminal justice reform, states that wrongful convictions are not “race [or] party issues” but inherently a “human issue” and that they urgently underline the need for further criminal justice reform.
She said she applauds the introduction of House Bill 691 and is passionately advocating for it to become law.