Call to Action: Support HB92 to Increase Compensation for the Wrongly Convicted in Louisiana
HB92 will increase the amount of wrongful conviction compensation innocent people receive.
Please help us by contacting your representatives before tomorrow morning. You can find the members of Senate Finance Committee here.
Some talking points:
  • Louisiana compensates the wrongly convicted at the 4th lowest rate in the nation, $25,000 per year with a cap of 10 years, regardless of how long that person spent in prison.
    • The national average for compensation is $68,000 per year.
    • Mississippi, Alabama and Florida all compensate innocent people at $50,000 per year.
    • Texas compensates innocent people at $80,000 per year.
  • Innocent people deserve to receive adequate compensation to help them rebuild their lives and the State of Louisiana should pay for stealing years of an innocent person’s life.
  • Innocent people lost years of their lives where they could have been building their careers, investing, paying into social security and more. When they come home, they have to start from scratch.
  • There is no amount of money that can make up for the time innocent exonerees lost to spend time with their loved ones and build families. $40,000 is the least we can do.

Sample script:

Dear Senator _________,

My name is _______ and I am one of your constituents in District __. I’m writing to ask you vote yes on HB92, a bill that will provide more adequate compensation to Louisiana’s exonerated citizens who spent decades in prison for crimes they had nothing to do with.

I wonder how many of us would agree to spend a year in Angola for the woefully inadequate $25,000 we currently provide to people who have been exonerated. I doubt anyone would do it for $40,000, but that number is much more in line with the national average ($68,000), and the amount that our neighboring states provide when the State has made a grave mistake that has cost someone years of their life ($50k in MS, AL, and FL and $80k next door in Texas).

We are not talking about “legal technicalities” nor people who somehow evaded charges. These are completely innocent people scarred by the State of Louisiana’s errors.

When someone is exonerated and returns home, there are endless new things to learn and deal with: cell phones and new technology, paying bills and rent, not to mention the undoing of the trauma of spending years wrongly incarcerated. There is no reason that our fellow citizens should have to deal deep financial insecurity on top of that, after all that was taken from them.  Exonerees’ prime earning years were taken from them, while they worked for pennies for the State of Louisiana. Their families suffer enormously, and some of our clients lost most of their family members while incarcerated. The very least we can do is assist with their financial rebuilding, since we can’t give them back those many years at Angola and other prisons.

Exonerated citizens of Louisiana deserve this. It is the very least that we can do to try to make up for the damage that has been caused to their lives and those of their families by the State. I sincerely hope that you will be voting YES on HB92.