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Bill To Provide Payouts For Exonerees Heads To Governor's Desk

An inmate at the Evansville Jail looks through a cell door.

Legislation to create payouts for people wrongfully imprisoned is just the stroke of a pen away from becoming law. (Steve Burns/WTIU News)

Legislation to create payouts for people wrongfully imprisoned is just the stroke of a pen away from becoming law.

The bill establishes a fund that would pay $50,000 for each year an innocent person spends behind bars.

Lawmakers spent much of the session trying to define “innocent” – it’s not enough that a person’s conviction is overturned. To get the money, they must prove they weren’t involved in the crime at all.

The measure also says a person can’t sue the state if they take from the fund. But some exonerees already filed lawsuits against the state. Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) says past exonerees can apply for the payouts before November 2021.

“That allows more people with pending cases to make their decision whether or not they want to take from the fund or continue with their lawsuit,” Steuerwald says.

The House voted 86-2 Wednesday to send the bill to the governor’s desk.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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