Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Keam Wins Passage of Measure to Track Status of Wrongly Incarcerated Prisoners

Sun Gazette

Keam Wins Passage of Measure to Track Status of Wrongly Incarcerated Prisoners

Monday, February 6, 2012

A bill patroned by Del. Mark Keam, aimed at giving state officials better information about the status of wrongly-convicted individuals receiving compensation from the state government, recently sailed through the House of Delegates on a 100-0 vote.

The measure now moves over to the state Senate.

Existing Virginia law allows for compensation to be awarded to those wrongfully convicted on a felony charge, but requires that payments stop if the individual is incarcerated for another felony. Yet it does not give the state treasurer the ability to determine whether such an incarceration has occurred.

Keam's bill gives the treasurer's office access to the statewide criminal-justice database to check on the status of those receiving payments.

Keam (D-35th), who patroned the bill at the request of the McDonnell administration, serves on the leadership team of the Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-Entry Council, established by the governor in 2010.

The General Assembly in 2004 enacted legislation providing those wrongfully incarcerated to receive state funds, based on the length of time of incarceration. Part of the total is paid out immediately, the remainder in subsequent years through an annuity.
State law sets maximum compensation of $40,000 for each year of up to 20 years of incarceration, according to the Innocence Project, which wants to see the per-year rate raised to $50,000 and the cap on number of years eliminated.

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