Editorial: 'Smart on crime' one of the successes of the 2017 Louisiana legislative session_lowres

State Rep. Joe Marino, No Party-Gretna (right).

Legislation to increase the amount paid to people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes in Louisiana cleared the Legislature Thursday.

House Bill 92 by Rep. Joseph Marino, No Party-Gretna, increases compensation for people wrongfully convicted of crimes from $25,000 annually with a cap of $250,000 to $40,000 annually and a cap of $400,000.

The measure also would extend the deadline to file for the compensation.

At first, Marino asked for $50,000 per year, but the chambers agreed to $40,000 with the $400,000 cap. The increased compensation would go into effect on July 1, 2022. Filers on or after the new effective date have the option to receive a lump sum payment of $250,000 instead of receiving $40,000 per year.

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Many states – including Texas, Alabama and Florida – offer money to the wrongfully convicted.

In other action, a House resolution to create an Equal Justice Task Force to study the effects of the non-unanimous jury verdict law in Louisiana received final passage Thursday. The resolution, HR 197, was authored by Randal Gaines, D-Laplace.

It came after a House committee had bottled up a proposal to give new court hearings to 1,500 people who had been convicted of serious crimes by non-unanimous juries before Louisiana changed the law to require unanimous jury verdicts.

A resolution by Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, to study non-capital felony sentencing also passed the Legislature, as did a resolution by another lawmaker to study the use of facial recognition data by law enforcement officers.