The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to approve a bill that would compensate those who have been wrongfully convicted.
The only concern raised about the bill was the accuracy of the definition of “actually innocent.” House Bill 1150, however, passed out of the Senate by a vote of 48-0.
HB 1150, sponsored by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, would entitle those convicts found “actually innocent” by the Criminal Justice Institute to compensation of $50,000 for every year that the individual served behind bars. The bill also would establish an exoneration fund administered by the institute.
Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have some form of compensation for those exonerated convicts, according to the Innocence Project advocacy group.
However, anyone receiving compensation for their imprisonment would have to forfeit any civil lawsuit related to their wrongful conviction. In addition, those who have already received a financial settlement would not be eligible under the bill.
Under the bill, those exonerated could be eligible for compensation if they do not file a claim against those involved with their conviction after June 30.
Some critics of the bill have argued that it does not go far enough, believing that those that already received compensation should be included in the bill regardless of when they were exonerated of their crimes.
The bill now moves back to the House – which approved it 96-0 on Feb. 9 — for that chamber to decide if it concurs with any changes made in the Senate.