Compensation for Wrongfully Convicted Shows Lawmaking is Just the First Step

Compensation for Wrongfully Convicted Shows Lawmaking is Just the First Step
August 21, 2017 Bridge Magazine



Marwin McHenry, a wrongfully convicted former inmate, after a hearing this week in Detroit. He received over $175,000 after spending four years in prison.

For the first time, people in Michigan who were wrongfully convicted are receiving compensation for their time in prison.

The first hearings to grant compensation happened this week in Detroit.

WDET’s Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth talk about how the hearings were a happy ending for some exonerated former inmates, “but not for everybody.”

There were a couple of people, two of them, who went home having their cases essentially dismissed,” says Roth. That’s because those cases didn’t involve new evidence brought forth to prove innocence. Rather, those individuals were released due to legal errors in their initial trials.

Now, there are questions about whether it was state lawmakers’ intent to pass a law that excluded some former inmates who were determined to be wrongfully convicted.

Neher says this is a good example of how it’s easy to view new laws as permanent solutions to societal problems — “But, in reality, that’s just the beginning,” he says. “That’s just where we start to find out how these laws actually affect people.”

Roth and Neher go on to talk about how the court system is just as important a venue for citizen involvement and activism as the legislative and executive branches of government.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET


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