Criminal Justice

Justice Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry


Last week, James C. Tillman received $5 million to compensate him for 18 years spent in prison for a rape he didn't commit. He was in prison in Connecticut, so it took an act of the state legislature to compensate him.

Slate explains how the wrongfully convicted are compensated elsewhere:

Only 21 states have compensation laws on the books, which spell out exactly how much you get for a wrongful conviction. Louisiana, for example, ponies up $15,000 for each year of incarceration, plus job training and help with college tuition. Alabama pays at least $50,000 a year, and California pays $100 per day. Meanwhile, the federal government forks over $50,000 for each year of incarceration for federal crimes, plus $50,000 for each year spent on death row.

Sometimes, fortune reverses itself again:

Florida, for instance, initially planned to award $1.25 million to Alan Crotzer for serving more than 24 years after being convicted of armed robbery and rape, but ultimately dropped the payment from its budget, instead giving $4.8 million to the parents of a teen who had died in juvie boot camp.

As a community service, Slate also alerts readers to the existence of Justice: Denied, "the magazine for the wrongly convicted."