July 21, 2019

Rep. Amore praises passage of bill that would compensate those who have been wrongfully imprisoned

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State House – Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) is praising the passage of legislation (2019-H 5329A), sponsored by Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), which would give compensation to innocent people who have spent time behind bars but later released when new evidence shows they were not guilty.

Representative Amore is a cosponsor of the legislation.

“First, I’d like to thank Representative Serpa for her tenacity in getting this bill passed. It is a sad reality in our state and across the country that innocent people are sent to prison for crimes they did not commit. Because our criminal justice system is not infallible and because there have been significant advances in forensic science, there is a need for this legislation. I think that it is more than fair that the victims of wrongful incarceration be compensated for their unjust imprisonment and that Rhode Island join the thirty other states that already provide compensation for this injustice,” said Representative Amore
Representative Amore has introduced a similar version of the bill the past two legislative sessions. In 2016, he crafted the bill with students at East Providence High School after the class discussed wrongful imprisonment in the school’s contemporary issues class and the class learned that Rhode Island in one of 17 states that does not compensate the wrongfully imprisoned.

The bill passed by the House would authorize any person who has been wrongfully sentenced to a term of imprisonment greater than one year to petition the presiding justice of Rhode Island Superior Court for an award of compensation and damages, including attorney’s fees.

Under the legislation, if the court found that the claimant was wrongfully incarcerated, it would grant an award of $50,000 for each year served in a correctional facility. For incarceration of less than a year, the amount would be prorated to 1/365 of $50,000 for every day served.

The award may be expanded to include compensation for any reasonable costs including housing, transportation, subsistence, re-integrative services, and mental and physical health care costs, along with reasonable attorney’s fees.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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