Proposed legislation to compensate to those wrongfully convicted in Georgia
ATLANTA - There's an effort underway under the Gold Dome to compensate innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted.
In 2021, Devonia Inman walked out of jail after spending 23 years behind bars. He was a free man after being wrongfully convicted of a 1998 murder.
"Many people think the nightmare of wrongful conviction ends when a person walks out of prison, but that's not the case. They come out they don't have money, housing, healthcare," said Blis Savidge of the Georgia Innocence Project.
HB 364 would compensate Inman and others like him to help them rebuild their lives.
"It's to compensate someone for their life taken away from them wrongly," said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta.
Georgia is one of a dozen states that does not have a law in place to compensate the wrongfully convicted.
Currently, there is a way for exonerees to get compensation, but it is difficult.
"They have to lobby the legislature and go through the exact same steps needed to pass a law. The ad hoc nature can lead to inconsistent and often unfair results," said Savidge.
Instead of lawmakers, Rep. Holcomb, who is a former prosecutor, wants a review board made of criminal justice experts to make sure the individual is innocent and then recommend compensation.
"It's really important they're compensated because they're missing out on the ability to make money, contribute to social security and Medicare," said Rep. Holcomb.
Under the proposed legislation, the compensation would be between $50,000 to $100,000 for each year they were in jail.
"Many people think the nightmare of wrongful conviction ends when a person walks out of prison, but that's not the case. Oftentimes, freedom is the beginning of another difficult journey," said Savidge.