crime, Wrongful Convictions

Covid-19 delays legislation that will help wrongfully convicted

Innocence Project of New Orleans

The Innocence Project of New Orleans said it will continue its efforts to pass legislation to increase the annual compensation for the wrongfully convicted although state legislators are unlikely to address it this session because of the coronavirus pandemic.

State Representatives Tanner Magee and Ted James have been lobbying to pass HB570, which would increase the compensation to $40,000 per year from the current $25,000 for each year a wrongfully convicted man or woman receives after being released.

The legislation would also eliminate the 10-year cap on the number of years exonerees would be entitled to compensation.

“Our client Henry James who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 29 years, 10 months and 27 days should not be compensated for just 10 of those years but for each year and every year—all 29 of the years the state took away from him and his family,” IPNO said.

Organization officials explained that HB570 is one of many bills that the legislature will not take up during its shorten session, which began two weeks ago and will end in June, in order address Covid-19’s impact on Louisiana’s economy, state budget and public health.

“This does not mean that the fight for innocent exonerees is over,” IPNO said. “We are familiar with delays and setbacks that drive us to be determined and persistent.”

Louisiana reported 35,038 Covid-19 cases and 2,458 deaths.

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