Exonerees Awards Bill Heads To Senate Floor Despite Objections

Mar 28, 2019

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.