Bill aims to help wrongfully convicted
BATON ROUGE - At the same time Glenn Ford was being released from death row at Angola Tuesday, lawmakers were considering a bill to help compensate those wrongfully convicted.
Ford starts a new life as a free man, looking to somehow try and pick up the life that he left behind nearly three decades ago.
"Thirty years of my life, if not all of it," Ford said. "I can't go back and do anything I was doing at like 35."
Ford is now eligible to apply for compensation from the state. If approved he can receive $25,000 a year, up to $250,000 total. State Representative Herbert Dixon (D-Alexandria) said that total's not nearly enough.
"(We) passed a law, used to be $150,000 for wrongfully convicted," Dixon said. "Now it's $250,000. I personally think it should be $500,000 per individual."
Dixon sponsored a bill that would create a tax on the court system dedicated to compensating those like Ford, who were released after a wrongful conviction.
"Individuals wrongfully convicted will have a funding source in the general fund dedicated specifically to them and their unique circumstances," Dixon said.
Wrongful conviction is not uncommon in Louisiana. According to the Innocence Project, there have been 34 people exonerated in Louisiana for wrongful convictions since 1990. Most of those convictions were men like Ford, who were serving life without parole or on death row.
Dixon's bill cannot be debated this year since it's considered a tax. It has to wait until next year's legislative session. Lawmakers only deal with tax issues every other session.