JUNEAU â€“ Today, Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) introduced legislation to protect Alaskans who are wrongfully convicted and subsequently serve time in prison.
“Our judicial system is meant to incarcerate the guilty and protect the innocent,” said Kawasaki. “If the system fails Alaskans, then the state is responsible to help the innocent get back on their feet.”
The bill (HB352) would create an administrative process whereby victims of overturned criminal convictions can request compensation from the state for time served. They can be compensated up to $50,000 per year with a cap at two million dollars. In order to qualify for the compensation, the claimant must have served time in prison and then have been exonerated via retrial, dismissed charges, or executive pardon because of innocence.
“While there is no price on the personal and emotional suffering of those wrongly imprisoned, this bill would bring Alaska up to the federal compensation standard to help right the state’s wrong,” said Kawasaki.
If passed, Alaska would be the thirtieth state, plus the District of Columbia, to have a compensation statute of some form.
The bill received a referral to the House State Affairs and House Judiciary committees.