Minnesota bill would pay up to $100K to compensate wrongfully convicted

Innocent people who are wrongfully convicted could get as much as $100,000 for each year they spend in prison under a bill passed Monday by the Minnesota House.

The bill calls for a range of $50,000 to $100,000 for each year of imprisonment. Someone who wrongfully spends a year on supervised release or as a registered sex offender could be paid between $25,000 and $50,000.

The proposed payments are a matter of fairness, said bill's sponsor Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul.

"We put them in jail and they shouldn't have been there," Lesch said. "When you screw someone's life up like that, it's our obligation to make them whole."

The bill would also offer compensation for court costs, lost wages and unpaid child support payments. It doesn't limit how much someone would get. The Minnesota Supreme Court's chief justice would appoint a panel to determine the compensation total.

The Senate version of the bill is awaiting a vote.

MPR News reporter Tom Scheck contributed to this report.

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