Nevada's Wrongful Conviction Compensation Bill goes through, but it isn't compensation enough
According to the bill, formerly incarcerated people who went through wrongful imprisonment can sue and if they win, they can get a certificate of innocence, their conviction records sealed, and monetary compensation as well.
Nevada's compensation bill for those wrongfully incarcerated was given the final green light in the Nevada Legislature earlier this week. The bill would provide compensation up to $100,000 a year they have spent behind bars in Nevada due to wrongful incarceration. It now heads to the governor's office.
According to the bill, formerly incarcerated people who went through wrongful imprisonment can sue and if they win, they can get a certificate of innocence, their conviction records sealed, and monetary compensation. Those who served up to 10 years in prison stand to receive $50,000 for each year while those that had 20 years of their life taken will be awarded $75,000 per year and those more than 20 years will be awarded $100,000 per year.
Under the bill, $25,000 is the minimum compensation for every year someone serves on parole and probation or years spent on a sex offender registry. The bill, called Assembly Bill 267 or Wrongful Conviction Compensation Bill was sponsored by Assembly Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas.
"As lawmakers, one of our most fundamental duties is to promote fairness in society," Yeager told MEA World Wide in a statement. "When our justice system falls short of that ideal, we must take corrective actions. AB267 provides compensation for those who were wrongfully convicted and deprived of their freedom. The passage of this bill is an important step as we work toward improving our justice system for future generations," he said.
However, monetary benefit isn't enough for someone who had their youth and years of their time taken away, says Obie Anthony, who was wrongfully incarcerated at 19 years and was exonerated after spending 17 years in prison on November 18, 2011. His case was botched up due to ineffective assistance of counsel and official misconduct and a corrupt informant and he went in for murder and attempted robbery. In August 2012, Anthony filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, which agreed to settle the claim in 2015 for $8.3 million. Anthony was also awarded compensation by the State of California to the amount of $581,600.
"There is no way that can ever compensate an individual monetarily. It's been more than two decades and I am still dealing with it mentally. The individual has lost so much and there is no getting that back. We lose family members during the course of the sentence, opportunity to build friendships and relationships - you don't even get to say goodbye," he said, adding that this will do very little to promote fairness.
"It does absolutely nothing, they're gonna continue to do what they have always done. If the prosecutors or the detective is eager enough to put someone in jail, they will go ahead and do what they want to do," he said.
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