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Bill in Legislature would pay exonerees

By: Heath Hamacher//March 23, 2018

Bill in Legislature would pay exonerees

By: Heath Hamacher//March 23, 2018

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, seven of the 2,138 listed exonerees are from South Carolina. State lawmakers are looking to make South Carolina the 33rd state that compensates those who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.

The federal government and the District of Columbia also have statutes in place.

House Bill 4838 was sponsored by Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, and Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, and states that wrongful convictions are the result of many causes, including misidentification, improper forensic science, and government misconduct. A convicted person is considered exonerated when he or she is officially considered innocent of a crime, according to the proposed law.

“The legislature also finds that innocent persons who have been wrongly convicted of crimes and subsequently imprisoned have been uniquely victimized, have distinct challenges re-entering society, and have difficulty achieving legal redress due to a variety of substantive and technical obstacles in the law,” proposed Article 22 reads, adding that exonerees deserve an “extra avenue of redress separate and apart from” existing tort remedies.

A petitioner would bear the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that he or she was wrongfully convicted. If successful, an exoneree would receive up to $15,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration, to be capped at $50,000.

A court order expunging all records of the arrest would also be ordered.

An attempt to speak with Norrell before press time was unsuccessful.

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