Forty-four Californians released from prison since 2000 have been denied compensation after a hearing before the state’s victim compensation board, which can award $100 a day for each day spent behind bars after a wrongful conviction, reports California Watch. Of the 132 people who have filed claims since 2000, 11 former inmates have been awarded compensation, with payments ranging from $17,200 to $756,900, for a total cost to taxpayers of more than $3 million.
Those who received compensation typically relied heavily on the testing of DNA evidence, which may not be as readily available to inmates who lack legal resources. “The whole process is a mess,” said Jeff Chinn of the California Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic at the California Western School of Law in San Diego that handles compensation claims on behalf of the wrongfully convicted. “Our clients are asked to prove things far beyond what is reasonable.” The Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board must approve compensation claims before they are sent to the state Legislature for a final vote. Board officials say they analyze each case fairly and permit evidence that typically would not be considered in a criminal or civil trial, such as hearsay.