More money needed for wrongfully convicted fund

Feb 12, 2019

The state Attorney General is working with lawmakers to make sure the wrongfully imprisoned are compensated.

A 2016 law says those who are wrongfully convicted and meet certain criteria can be awarded 50-thousand dollars per year of imprisonment. But there soon might not be enough money to pay people who are awarded judgments down the road. 

Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) worked on the bill that became the compensation law. She said the amount of money the state could eventually need to pay down the road, is significant.

“It is really unfortunate that we haven’t made sure that we have enough money to be able to fulfil that promise but I’m hopeful that we can get that resolved,” she said

Kelly Rossman-McKinney is a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel. She said right now one man is waiting for half a million dollars. And the state could soon have to pay another wrongfully convicted man. Between those two, without more money added, the fund would be almost empty.

“We’re already working with others,” she said. “We’re talking in particular about the Legislature to provide them with the kind of information they need to determine how much will be [necessary] to fully fund the account.” 

But the only way to add more money is through the state’s appropriations process in the state Legislature. 

Representative Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) chairs the House committee that works on the state budget. He said he’s aware of the issue and will keep it in mind during the budget process. 

“It’s something they’re entitled to and the past Legislature actually put some money in it,” he said. “We’re looking to see what the governor’s suggestion is for this year’s budget.”