Flowers Bill Would Raise Compensation for Wrongfully Convicted Illinoisans


 

Flowers Bill Would Raise Compensation for Wrongfully Convicted Illinoisans 

CHICAGO – A bill introduced by Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Mary E. Flowers, D-Chicago, which recently advanced out of committee, would reform compensation for Illinoisans who are wrongfully convicted and then exonerated, as well as remove a great deal of uncertainty from the process. 

“More and more, we see people being exonerated after shoddy police work, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial failures or even outright prejudice and systemic inequality left them unjustly convicted of crimes they didn’t commit,” Flowers said. “It’s clear that more needs to be done for those whose lives have been turned upside down by this type of flagrant injustice. That’s why I’m working to increase compensation and eliminate limits for those impacted by failures of justice.” 

Currently, there is no minimum compensation for those exonerated after a wrongful conviction, and the amount—if any—a person can be awarded is mostly at the discretion of the Court of Claims. There are, however, statutory maximums of $85,350 for five years or less of imprisonment, $170,000 for five to fourteen years and $199,150 for more than fourteen years. 

Flowers’ House Bill 1016 would remove entirely these statutory maximums and replace arbitrary awards with guaranteed and fixed award amounts of $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment, including pretrial incarceration or detention while awaiting trial; along with $25,000 per year wrongfully spent not incarcerated but on parole, on probation, or on a sex offender registry. These amounts would be prorated for partial years and the Court of Claims would retain the ability to raise them by up to 5% per year to account for increases in the consumer price index. The bill contains other measures as well. Full details are available at ILGA.gov. 

“It’s true that this opens the door to much larger payments to the wrongfully convicted, but that’s the whole point,” Flowers said. “Miscarriages of justice shouldn’t be affordable. Instead of placing limits on compensation, if the state doesn’t want to pay massive settlements, it should ensure that police, prosecutors and courts do their jobs correctly and in good faith. Tolerating official incompetence, prejudice and bad convictions is a choice. And it is a choice that should have consequences.” 

Flowers’ office can be reached at 773-471-5200 or tsnow@hds.ilga.gov. 

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