STATEHOUSE (Feb. 19, 2019) – Based off a proposal authored by State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) that House members unanimously supported today, innocent Hoosiers who are wrongfully convicted could soon be compensated for their time spent behind bars.
Steuerwald, an attorney and member of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, said his bill would provide an alternative to those who are innocent and wrongfully convicted who do not want to pursue lengthy lawsuits.
“In Indiana, those who are innocent and wrongfully convicted can choose to sue, which could be a drawn-out process,” Steuerwald said. “For those who have already lost years of their lives behind bars, this option may not be feasible.”
According to Steuerwald, those convicted who are later determined innocent by the courts or pardoned by the governor on the basis of innocence, could either pursue a lawsuit or take the monetary option in the amount of $50,000 for each year they were wrongfully incarcerated, but not both. He said money provided to innocent Hoosiers who are wrongfully convicted would come from an exoneration fund established through this policy, which would be administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
Steuerwald said they would also be eligible for post-prison wraparound services that are currently only offered to those who serve their time and are released.
“Despite being innocent, these individuals face challenges when they are released,” Steuerwald said. “In addition to monetary compensation, they deserve to have access to programs dedicated to helping people succeed after incarceration.”
This proposal would also provide an option for those currently in a lawsuit to dismiss their case and then apply for the monetary option.
After today’s unanimous vote in support of House Bill 1150, Steuerwald’s proposal now goes to the Senate for consideration.
State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) represents House District 40, which includes a portion of Hendricks County.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.