Kansas governor signs bill to compensate wrongfully convicted

Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has signed a bill that will compensate people who are wrongfully convicted of a crime in Kansas.

His signature on House Bill 2579 made Kansas the 33rd state to enact a wrongful conviction compensation statute. It was described by advocates as the “gold standard” for the nation. Individuals found by a court to meet the definition of wrongfully convicted would receive $65,000 for each year held on that conviction and $25,000 for each year wrongfully served on parole, probation or on a sex offender registry. The payments are not subject to state or federal taxation. 

Exonerees in Kansas would receive cash, the social services and a “certificate of innocence and expungement” designed to formally clear their names. In the event of a civil award or settlement from a lawsuit brought by an exoneree, compensation from the state would be deducted or repaid.

Kansas legislators worked with the Midwest Innocence Project on the bill’s language. A representative from the Innocence Project hopes the Kansas law can be a model for other states.

“We hope that neighboring states we work in — Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Arkansas — will take notice and follow Kansas’ lead,” said Tricia Bushnell, executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project.

Read more about the Kansas law here.