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CASPER, Wyo. — A bill that would establish a system for compensating former inmates exonerated based on DNA testing cleared a legislative committee Friday.

A wrongfully incarcerated person would receive $75 for each day of his incarceration, up to a lifetime maximum of $300,000, under the legislation, which the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee agreed to sponsor in the upcoming legislative session. The money would be paid in increments of $30,000 a year.

Former prisoners who accept the money would be barred from filing a lawsuit against the state over their time behind bars.

Wyoming adopted a DNA exoneration system two years ago. It allows inmates to seek DNA tests to attempt to prove their innocence. Lawmakers at the time did not include a compensation program.

Under the program, former inmates would have two years after being exonerated to apply to the state for financial compensation. If they died during that period, immediate family could still seek the money.

A draft of the bill also included provisions for job training, housing money, medical treatment, counseling services and free tuition at state schools. However, the committee voted to remove all but the financial compensation from the legislation.

 

Contact Joshua Wolfson at josh.wolfson@trib.com or 307-266-0582.

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