ACLU-PA Position: Supports
HB 1470 would amend Titles 42 and 61 to establish a process to provide compensation and services to victims of wrongful conviction and imprisonment in Pennsylvania. The bill would provide $100,000 for every year the person was incarcerated on death row; $75,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration not on death row; and $50,000 for each year someone spent on parole or probation for a crime they didn’t commit.
The National Registry of Exonerations has identified 123 cases of wrongful convictions in Pennsylvania, which included five federal cases in 2021. People have been falsely imprisoned for an average of about 12 years.
A wrongfully convicted person (or their heirs, in the event the person has died) may be eligible for compensation if:
- The conviction was dismissed, overturned, reversed or vacated on direct or collateral review and the charges were not refiled.
- The conviction was dismissed, overturned, reversed or vacated on direct or collateral review and the individual is acquitted after retrial.
- Both of the following apply:
- The conviction was overturned, reversed or vacated on direct or collateral review and the individual subsequently entered an Alford plea or plea of no contest when otherwise eligible to seek retrial.
- The individual alleges prima facie evidence of actual innocence of the crime which resulted in the conviction.
- A full pardon has been issued by the Governor and the individual alleges prima facie evidence of actual innocence of the crime for which the pardon was granted.
Pennsylvania is one of 12 states that has no process to compensate the wrongfully convicted. HB 1470 would provide at least some relief for those who the commonwealth's criminal legal system irretrievably failed.
Check the bill's status here.