LANSING — State Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and state Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) said today that they are pleased that their bills to compensate people who are wrongfully imprisoned are moving closer to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk for his signature.
“I’m glad my colleagues agree that it is our responsibility to make sure that we compensate those who have been wrongfully incarcerated,” Chang said. “Currently, exonerees are simply released without any assistance in obtaining shelter, employment or other re-entry services. We must do all that we can to help them once they return to their communities.”
Chang’s bill, House Bill 5815, would provide for re-entry services that would include transitional housing for individuals released from prison without parole due to the prisoner’s conviction or sentence being overturned. Bieda’s bill, Senate Bill 291, would allow a person to bring an action for compensation against the state if he or she had been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a crime he or she did not commit.
“This bill will help innocent people who were wrongfully convicted begin to restore their lives. No amount of money can get back the time lost, families or careers,” Bieda said. “Innocent people should not be penalized for mistakes in the justice system. This legislation at least helps the innocent pick up the pieces of their lives.”
There are 32 individuals who have been exonerated in Michigan that are eligible for compensation. Chang and Bieda believe that it is appropriate to compensate these people for the years they spent wrongfully imprisoned.
There are significant costs to securing housing, jobs, transportation and other needs when adjusting back into society. These bills will help exonerees meet these needs.
Chang and Bieda have been working together to pass these bills since the beginning of the current legislative term. Chang’s bill will next be considered by the Senate. Bieda’s bill goes back to the Senate for final approval.