Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs bills clearing obstacle for wrongful imprisonment claims

Wrongfully convicted people whose claims were initially dismissed by the courts are now eligible to seek compensation again under bills signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday.

Under a 2016 law, people exonerated from crimes are eligible for up to $50,000 per year spent in prison from the state.

Wrongfully convicted people were given 18 months to sue for the money under the law, but some had their claims denied because of a discrepancy between that deadline and a six-month deadline for filing claims against the state outlined in a different law.

The new laws will exempt wrongful conviction claims from that six-month timeframe and allow more time to file for people whose cases were initially dismissed in court.

Senate Bill 68 and House Bills 5117 and 5118 passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate and were signed by Whitmer Tuesday.

State Rep. Julie Calley, R-Portland, was a lead sponsor on the legislation along with Rep. Kyra Bolden, D-Southfield, and Sen. Paul Wojno, D-Warren.

In a statement, she said no one who served time in prison for crimes they didn’t commit “should be denied the damages they are due because of a technicality.”

“Now, people who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in Michigan will be able to seek compensation, so they can get back on their feet and pursue a brighter tomorrow,” she said.

Since the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Fund in the state treasurer’s office was established, many critics have been concerned that there isn’t enough money being allocated to compensate exonerated people for the time they’d served.

A supplemental spending bill signed into law last June included $10 million for the state’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Fund for the state to begin paying exonerees, some of whom spent decades in prison.


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