Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Michigan doesn't have enough funds to compensate even one wrongfully convicted man

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2020 at 12:30 PM

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According to a recent report from the National Registry of Exonerations, wrongful convictions aren't as rare as one might think. In fact, 2018 was a record-setting period, with 1,639 combined years lost to prison by the innocent. And Michigan was one of the top states for exonerations, with nine reported in 2018, following Illinois (49), New York (16), and Texas (16).

Ray Gray, the subject of a recent Metro Times cover story, maintains that he was wrongfully convicted for a murder he did not commit. He's been imprisoned for 47 years.

However, the state doesn't even have enough money in its exoneration fund to pay even one wrongfully convicted former prisoner, according to a 2019 Detroit News report.

One man, Richard Phillips, spent 46 years in prison, making him the longest-serving wrongfully convicted inmate in U.S. history. But the $1.6 million in the state's exoneration fund is short of the $2 million it owes Phillips alone.

"The current balance in the fund is so low that a single case or two could deplete it," Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel, told The Detroit News.

Under the 2016 Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, the wrongfully convicted are owed $50,000 for each year in prison. In the meantime, supporters are calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature to appropriate more money for the fund.

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