The Baton Rouge Advocate looks into Louisiana’s compensation for the wrongfully convicted–people like John Thompson, who spent more than a decade on Death Row before he was exonerated in 2003. For seven years, he didn’t receive a dime from the state that had come within weeks of executing him. For the wrongfully convicted, compensation is determined in many cases by geography and the arbitrary values assigned to the nightmare of serving undeserved prison time.
But Louisiana's exonerees have notched incremental victories in Baton Rouge in recent years, securing payments that are often long overdue. While nearly two dozen states don't compensate exonerees at all, Louisiana has a statute that entitles people like Thompson to $25,000 per year of wrongful incarceration — capped at $250,000 — plus up to $80,000 for “loss of life opportunities.” At least two dozen of the state's approximately 40 exonerees have been awarded some payment, while several others have cases pending.