How courts correct mistakes in the criminal justice system depends on where you live

IN NOVEMBER 1999, a 25-year-old Kansan named Tom Bledsoe confessed to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. Just days later, however, Mr Bledsoe recanted, pinning the crime instead on his younger brother, Floyd. When the jury gave its verdict in April 2000, it was Floyd, not Tom, who was sent to prison, a wrongful conviction that would cost him more than 15 years of his life before he was exonerated in December 2015. With cases like this in mind, Kansas legislators are considering introducing a law that would give wrongfully convicted Kansans $ 80,000 for each year spent in prison. At the moment, as in some other states, Floyd is entitled to nothing.

Had he been convicted in neighbouring Colorado, which passed a law in 2013 giving those exonerated $ 70,000 for each year they are locked up, Mr Bledsoe would have received $ 1.1m. Today, 31 states and the District of Columbia provide compensation in such cases. Payments vary considerably by state. In Texas, which accounted for a third of all exonerations in 2016, individuals are awarded $ 80,000 for every year of prison. In California, they receive $ 100 per day, or $ 36,500 per year. In Wisconsin, one…Continue reading
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