Man freed after 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit — and gets $0

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2017 | Wrongful Convictions |

More than two decades ago, a Kansas man named Lamonte McIntyre was arrested, charged and wrongfully convicted of a 1994 double homicide — a crime he did not commit. However, after the state of Kansas stole 23 years of his life, he was freed just last week following his exoneration.

So, can you guess just how much Kansas is required to pay a man who has wrongfully lost more than half of his life behind bars? The answer: absolutely nothing.

What? That can’t be right. He deserves compensation.

Unfortunately, Kansas is one of only 18 states that is not required to compensate victims of wrongful convictions who are later exonerated, according to a recent report by The Kansas City Star.

So while McIntyre may attempt to file a suit in federal court based on the violation of his civil rights, the state of Kansas is not otherwise required to pay this innocent man for his 23 year in jail. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t commit the crime.

Interestingly, had McIntyre been wrongfully convicted in several other states, he would be entitled to compensation. For instance, Texas provides $80,000 for every year wrongfully in prison — meaning he could potentially collect more than $1.8 million. Similarly, Colorado gives $70,000 per year, while Alabama provides $50,000 a year.

Here in New York, victims of wrongful convictions can even seek compensation under Section 8-b of the New York Court of Claims Act, otherwise known as the state’s wrongful conviction recovery statute.

What is even more tragic in this instance, though, is that Kansas lawmakers have introduced multiple bills over the last couple years seeking to provide compensation to wrongful conviction victims. Unfortunately, these bills did not become law.