Lawmakers consider compensation bill for wrongfully convicted

TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) — Looking to right a wrong, that is what new legislation at the capitol is hoping to do.

The legislation would pay people who were imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.

Holding his nine-week-old son in his arms, Floyd Bledsoe says he’s trying to move forward.

“At some point in your life you have to look forward. Nobody ever goes forward looking back,” explained Bledsoe.

Bledsoe spent 15 years behind bars for a murder and rape committed by his brother.

“It’s hard for people to comprehend what it’s like to walk out after being labeled a murder and a child molester,” he told lawmakers on the Senate judiciary committee.

Under Senate Bill 336, a wrongfully convicted person would receive $80,000 for every year spent in prison.

When asked if $80,000 was enough, Bledsoe said it was a start.

“I’m hoping that those who contributed to the wrongdoing, to put someone innocent in prison that they too would have to supplement that,” said State Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City.

Haley added the bill could save the state money.

“This is far less expensive than what Kansas is having to pay for those who come before the special claims against the state because they were wrongfully incarcerated,” he said.

“For a long time I was just trying to make sense of what I could,” said Lamonte McIntyre.

McIntyre was convicted of a double-murder when he was just 17, now at 41 he says it’s hard not having credit established or a savings.

“I never began to start a life in the first place, I was too young. I’m just starting fresh not over, so I hope this bill gets passed,” he said.

With his wife and new son, Bledsoe says the bill would give him a chance at a future.

“It’s exciting and hopeful to know that we have an end in sight,” he said.

The Senate judiciary committee will take up the bill again on Monday.


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