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Lawmakers say wrongly convicted deserve $60 K for every year behind bars

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation

People who were wrongfully convicted would be entitled to $60,000 for each year they spent in prison, under legislation unveiled today at the state Capitol.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, says it’s the fair thing to do.

“As a state, we failed them. We made mistakes in their cases, and now that they’re out, now that they they’ve been cleared, either through DNA evidence or other types of very, very clear evidence in the courts, I think it’s our responsibility to try and make them whole again.” 

State Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, has proposed the legislation before, but says he believes the Legislature could finally adopt it in this term. 


“Nobody wants to see an innocent person go to jail,” said Bieda.” We’re not attributing blame in this. We’re looking at just providing some justice for individuals who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.”

Bieda says Michigan typically has one or two people released a year because new evidence proves their innocence. He says the state should also provide more support services for wrongfully convicted people after they’re released.

Similar bills have been introduced in previous sessions of the Legislature. This time, both Republicans and Democrats have signed on as supporters. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.