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Advocates for wrongfully-convicted push for more state compensation


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Advocates for the wrongfully-convicted are making a national push to get states to spend more to help the innocent regain what they lost while in prison.

Wisconsin offers a maximum of $25,000. But almost two dozen states offer nothing – and Texas goes the other way, with $80,000 for each year a person is wrongfully held plus fees.

The national Innocence Project wants every state to offer what the federal government gives to its wrongfully-confined – $50,000 a year, plus $50,000 for every year on death row.

Texas rape suspect Cornelius Dupree got $2.4 million in 2011, after serving 30 years. Robert Stinson of Milwaukee only asked for a fraction of that – and he got even less.

Stinson, who spent 23 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit, wanted $5,000 for every year he spent behind bars. The State Claims Board granted its max of $25,000, and said the Legislature could pay the other $90,000 – but a bill to that effect never went anywhere in the last session.

Also, a Duluth man got the same $25,000 after he spent 10 years in prison for a child sexual assault before the victim recanted. Rommain Isham asked for $3.7 million, claiming he was raped and beaten by fellow inmates while behind bars. But Isham got $5,000 more than New Hampshire’s top compensation for the wrongfully convicted – and $15,000 more than what California provides.

Stephen Saloom of the Innocence Project says he knows state budgets are tight – but he said the states need to recognize what wrongful convictions do to people and their families.