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Report No. 277

D. United States of America

3.26 In the United States of America (US), matters of miscarriage of justice resulting in wrongful conviction are primarily addressed by compensating those who have been wrongfully convicted in accordance with the federal or the respective state law, as may be applicable.

(i) Federal Law

3.27 The federal law on the issue is the United States Code Title 28 § 1495 & § 2513. It deals with federal claims from persons unjustly convcited of an offence against the United States and imprisoned. A claimant is eligible for relief under this law on the grounds of pardon for innocence, reversal of conviction or of not being found guilty at a new trial or rehearing. These claims lie in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The Code provides for a fixed compensation amount depending on the length of incarceration.33

(ii) State Laws 3.28 All the States in the US have their own respective laws providing for compensation- monetary and/or non-monetary assistance- to the victims of wrongful conviction, incarceration. In terms of monetary compensation, while some States have laid down fixed amount to be paid depending on the period of incarceration (Alabama, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Hawai, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington), others have given the discretion to the appropriate forum to decide the amount of compensation on case-to-case basis (with a statutory guidelines/prescribed maximum amount)(Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, West Virginia)

3.29 The compensation framework of Illinois needs a specific mention, where the statute (Ill Rev Stat Ch. 705 § 505/1) provides a tabular compensation formula, laying down maximum amount payable depending on the period of incarceration: 5 years or less- $85,350 maximum 14 year or less- $170,000 maximum More than 14 years- $199,150 maximum

3.30 District of Columbia is also worth mentioning, where DC ST § 2-421 provides for interim relief, stating that within 21 days of approval of a petition for compensation, the claimant will receive $10,000 to assist in immediately securing services such as housing, transportation, subsistence, re-integrative services, and mental and physical health care.

3.31 In addition to the above, most of the States in the US also provide for non-monetary compensation for assisting these victims in rehabilitation, and reintegration into society; it includes transitional services including housing assistance, job training, assistance in terms of job search and placement services, referral to employers with job openings, and physical and mental health services, counselling services; and expunging of the record of conviction- helpful in allowing the claimants to reintegrate into society.



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