AUGUSTA — Lawmakers are discussing a bill which would provide compensation for people who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime.
The bill’s sponsor, Jeffrey Evangelos, read testimony from a man in Kansas, who lived that nightmare.
“Before I was locked up. I had live stock. I had a wife and kids. When I was released I had nothing. I lost my family. My job. I lost everything,” said Evangelos.
He told members of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee people are not getting what they deserve.
“The current law has a damage capital of $300,000 dollars,” said Evangelos. “So a person was unjustly imprisoned in Maine for 30 years received just $10,000 a year, hardly a recipe for justice.”
Evangelos’s bill is proposing a fund of 50,000 dollars per year for each year wrongfully served, and an additional, $10,000, for each year wrongfully served as a sex offender.
Defense attorney Walter Mckee testified in favor of the bill.
He said he believes people are falsely imprisoned right now in Maine.
“If it were not for client confidentially I could tell you some stories. They are ones that weigh on me today and names I will never forget.”
No one at the public hearing testified against the bill.
John Pellitier, Chair of Criminal Law and Advisory Commission, said they need to clarify the definition of innocence before passing the bill.
“The criteria is that the person that demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that they did not commit the crime,” Pelletier said. “That is an ambiguous statement.”
The bill is expected to be reviewed by the state legislature within the next few weeks.