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Exonerees Awards Bill Heads To Senate Floor Despite Objections

Sen. travis holdman seated at the statehouse

Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) is "uneasy" with a bill that gives people $50,000 for each year they were wrongfully imprisoned. (Lauren Chapman, IPB News)

Some state senators pushed back Thursday on a bill that provides payouts to innocent people wrongfully imprisoned.

A Senate committee still approved the bill, despite the opposition.

The legislation would pay people who are proven innocent $50,000 for each year they were behind bars. It also says if they take that money, they can’t sue the state, seeking money in civil court.

Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) says he’s uneasy with the bill. He notes a northwest Indiana man spent 17 years wrongfully imprisoned and wonders if the state shouldn’t, in Holdman’s words, “take our chances” in civil court.

“Seventeen years times $50,000, we’re talking about roughly close to $1 million right there,” Holdman says.

But Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne) notes that the last eight wrongfully imprisoned people who successfully sued the state got settlements that amounted to more than $200,000 per year they were locked up.

And Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) says the bill is about justice.

“Giving people some compensation for having lost a huge part of their life,” Tallian says.

Holdman and Sen. Mike Crider (R-Greenfield) voted "no" on the bill, the first two votes against it this session across three committees and the House floor.

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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