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Saturday
Jan292011

Washington State Proposes Compensation for Wrongly Convicted

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- The day Alan Northrop's rape conviction was overturned -- the day an innocent man walked out of prison after serving 17 years for a crime he didn't commit -- is the day the state of Washington considered its debt to him paid.

"I got no apology, no nothing, no offer of any kind of financial aid," Northrop said.

With no job, no training, and no work experience but the time he spent working in the prison kitchen for $55 a month, Northrop was released with only a few dollars to his name. He owed more than $100,000 in back child support he had been unable to pay while incarcerated, and had to move in with his brother because he could not afford a place of his own.

It is Northrop's case, along with those of three other men recently exonerated in the state, which inspired Washington State Senator Jim Hargrove to co-sponsor legislation that would compensate the wrongly convicted.

Hargrove's bill would pay those found to be innocent up to $20,000 per year for each year they spent behind bars, including time spent waiting for trial. Washington is one of 23 states that do not currently provide such compensation, according to the National Innocence Project. Most of the other 27 states and the District of Columbia pay a set amount per year served to those later found to be innocent.

Northrop was convicted of rape in 1993 after a woman picked him and another man out of a police line-up as the two who had attacked her while she was working as a housekeeper. Northrop was sentenced to more than 23 years in prison, of which he served 17 before being cleared by DNA evidence. The other man convicted in the case was also found to be innocent.

Hargrove's bill is scheduled for a hearing in the state Senate committee he chairs on Feb. 1. Northrop plans to testify in favor of the legislation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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