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Washington lawmakers considering bill to compensate those who are wrongfully convicted

A Washington man was convicted of rape in 1993. After spending close to two decades behind bars, his conviction was overturned in 2010 after DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Despite being a free man, he faced many challenges when he left prison.

After hearing about the man's story, a Washington lawmaker introduced a bill that would compensate wrongly convicted individuals. Under the proposed bill, the state would pay inmates $50,000 for every year they spent in prison. Wrongly convicted sex offenders would receive $25,000 for every year they spent on parole.

People opposed to the bill say that the new measure is implausible considering the state's budget deficit. However, Rep. Tina Orwall says the new law would actually benefit the state considering the current lawsuits brought by other wrongly convicted inmates.

If passed, Washington would be the 28th state in the country to pass this kind of legislation. Under federal law, people who are wrongly convicted and imprisoned in a federal prison are compensated $50,000 for each year of incarceration.

Although it is easy for the general public to assume an individual's guilt, this story and others like it prove that people charged with certain crimes are not always guilty. This story also shows that even those who are convicted of a crime could be innocent.

It is clear that people charged with serious crimes in Washington and beyond must have a solid defense strategy. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to avoid a wrongful conviction.

Source: New York Daily News, "Man who served 17 years in prison for rape he didn't commit inspires Washington state bill to compensate wrongfully imprisoned $50,000 per year," David Knowles, Feb. 18, 2013

•· Our firm works with people have been charged with a serious crime. For more information, please visit our Spokane criminal defense page.

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