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Missouri representative prefiles bill to change state's restitution law

Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 21:52:10-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri state representative has prefiled a bill to change the state's restitution law for people wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit.

Rep. Mark Sharp, who represents a southern portion of Kansas City, Missouri, in the state legislature, sent a copy of the bill to KSHB 41 News Thursday.

Under current Missouri law, wrongfully convicted people are not eligible to receive restitution unless their exoneration resulted solely from DNA profiling analysis.

Sharp's proposed bill changes that. If passed, it would allow those who are found innocent as the result of an evidentiary method outside of DNA analysis to be eligible for restitution.

People eligible could receive as much as $100 per day for every day they spent incarcerated after their conviction.

The bill does not allow those receiving restitution to also seek compensation from the state or its agents in civil court.

Restitution would be paid in June each year, the amount of which would not exceed $36,500 each fiscal year.

The state's obligation to pay out would end with the wrongfully convicted person's death. The restitution would not be transferable to beneficiaries, according to the bill.

The bill will be introduced just after Kevin Strickland's release after nearly 43 years in prison for a 1978 crime he did not commit.

Strickland would not benefit from Sharp's law because it will not be applied retroactively and because he was not exonerated based on DNA evidence.

Rather, a judge believed the recantation of the only eyewitness testimony that put Strickland in jail was credible.

Under such circumstances, Strickland is not eligible to receive any restitution from the state.

A GoFundMe started by his attorney has raised more than $1.7 million for his transition, though.

A modified version of the law allowing restitution for those exonerated through DNA analysis would be enacted with Sharp's proposed law.

The bill is among more than 300 others filed by lawmakers ahead of the 2022 legislative session, which will begin in about a month.