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Another bill seeks to amend New York's wrongful conviction law

A couple weeks ago, we told you about a re-introduced New York bill that is currently seeking to increase the benefits provided to victims of wrongful convictions. Among the benefits proposed by this legislation -- otherwise known as Assembly Bill 3894 -- include free college tuition, health care paid for by the state and the reimbursement of legal fees.

Well, it turns out this bill isn't the only piece of legislation being re-introduced by New York lawmakers this year. In fact, Assembly Bill 5306 was also amended and re-committed to the Judiciary Committee on March 5 -- and this bill proposes significantly larger wrongful-conviction benefits than AB 3894.

What makes AB 5306 so noteworthy?

While AB 5306 contains many of the same proposals as AB 3894 -- including free college, medical coverage and legal fee reimbursement -- it also proposes several other substantial benefits for victims of wrongful convictions such as:

  • At least one million dollars for each year the victim was behind bars
  • Free tuition at a state college or university for both the victim and his or her children
  • Compensation for lost wages while the victim was wrongfully in prison

Also, like AB 3984, victims would not have to pay any state or local taxes on the damages they receive.

Even though it is too early to know if this bill will garner more support than it did last year, there is no denying that some lawmakers understand the importance of helping wrongful conviction victims.

In fact, a New York Committee Report issued last week specifically says, "It is imperative that the State compensate these individuals for the time they have been wrongfully incarcerated and give them the ability to make a fresh start in the years remaining to them." But, do enough lawmakers support this statement in order for this law to pass this year? We will just have to wait and see.

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