Washington State to Compensate the Wrongfully Convicted

A Washington state law to compensate innocent persons convicted of crime will take effect in July.

The law pays an innocent person $50,000 for each year in prison (doubled if the person was on death row) and $25,000 for each year obliged to register as a sex offender or in community custody (a status akin to parole). It also provides reimbursement for some expenses, such as child support while imprisoned.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall and pushed for three years by the Legislative Advocacy Clinic of Innocence Project Northwest. The human face on the problem that legislators saw just before passage was that of Alan Northrop, who did 17 years for a rape in La Center, near Vancouver.

The original Innocence Project, in New York, has put together an overview of law and policy on compensating the wrongly convicted. At least according to one news account, Texas pays the most of any state.