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Hearings start to compensate exonerated prisoners

The first hearings to compensate people who’ve been wrongfully convicted started Wednesday; but some left the courtroom unsatisfied.

The hearings come after a new law was signed at the end of last year. That law gives wrongfully convicted people money for each year they were in prison.

Two of the four cases were dismissed without any money given to the former inmates. One of the requirements to get money is that new evidence shows the former inmate didn’t commit the crime. A judge said the two cases didn’t have new evidence.

Wolfgang Mueller is an attorney for a prisoner who was not compensated.

“This bill has so many holes with respect to insufficiency of evidence that you leave somebody who spent five years in prison out in the cold with no compensation,” Mueller said. “That is absolutely unjust.”

But bill sponsor, Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) says that the law had to have parameters.

Bieda said he worked on the legislation for twelve years and is happy with how the hearings went.

“As Americans, and as human beings, we cherish the ideal of justice and we think that justice was done,” he said.

Marwin McHenry is one of the wrongfully convicted who’ll be compensated. He’ll get over 175-thousand dollars for the time he served in prison.

McHenry said he’s grateful for the money he got but, “It’s never enough, no dollar amount is enough for the time. Really nothing can make up for the time that was lost.”

McHenry is in his mid-twenties. He said he plans to go into real estate.

So far, 25 people have filed for wrongful imprisonment compensation. That’s out of 66 people who have been exonerated in Michigan since 1992.