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Hearings Begin to Compensate Wrongly-Convicted Inmates

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Image credit: Michigan Legislature

A judge denied compensation to half of the exonerated prisoners after hearings this week.

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Marwin McHenry received over $175,000 after spending four years in prison.Cheyna Roth/MPRN
Cheyna Roth/MPRN

Marwin McHenry received over $175,000 after spending four years in prison.

The first hearings to compensate people who were wrongfully convicted in Michigan began on Wednesday.

Marwin McHenry is one of the wrongfully convicted who’ll be compensated. He’ll get over $175,000 dollars for the time he served in prison.

He says he’s grateful for the money he got, but “It’s never enough, no dollar amount is enough for the time. Really nothing can make up for the time that was lost.”

McHenry is in his mid-twenties. He says he plans to go into real estate. 

A law that went into effect earlier this year lays out certain circumstances where a former inmate can receive compensation.

Only half of the people on Wednesday went away with any money. Two of the four cases were thrown out because the statute requires new evidence be part of the reason the former inmate is exonerated.

Wolfgang Mueller is an attorney for a prisoner who was not compensated.

This bill has so many holes with respect to insufficiency of evidence that you leave somebody who spent five years in prison out in the cold with no compensation,” says Mueller. ”That is absolutely unjust.”

Mueller says he will file an appeal.

A lawmaker who wrote the legislation says there had to be parameters for who could qualify for compensation. Democratic state Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) says he worked on the legislation for twelve years.

As Americans and as human beings we cherish the ideal of justice and we think that justice was done,” says Bieda.

So far, 25 people have filed for wrongful imprisonment compensation. That’s out of 66 people who have been exonerated in Michigan since 1992.

Cheyna Roth, Reporter

Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She’s also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films. Follow @Cheyna_R

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