Exonerated Prisoners Bill Back To House, Concerns Raised Over 'Actually Innocent'

Apr 12, 2019

A bill to provide payouts for people wrongly convicted of a crime passed the Senate. Democrats raised concerns about its definition of “actually innocent.”

The bill would create a fund to pay people imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit $50,000 for each year they were locked up. But it limits those funds to people who are – in the bill’s words – “actually innocent.”

Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) says he hoped for the definition of “actually innocent” recommended by the Innocence Project. It covers an additional group of exonerated prisoners.

“It covers those situations where the prosecutor does not pursue the case because of lack of evidence,” Taylor says.

This bill does not. It notes "the mere fact that the trier of fact acquitted or did not convict the person on remand is insufficient, standing alone, to establish the person is actually innocent."

READ MORE: Exonerated Prisoners Bill Faces Changes In Senate

Future exonerated prisoners will apply to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to qualify for those funds. That organization already determines the qualifications for other victims grants, and will evaluate, investigate and decide if a person qualifies for this fund. 

The bill passed the Senate 48-0, and now goes back to the House.