For Immediate Release
HOW TO RIGHT A WRONG
A.G. PRAISES NEW LAW THAT COMPENSATES THE INNOCENT
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says a new Utah law is the right approach for those who have been wronged by the justice system. Senate Bill 16, the Exoneration and Innocence Assistance Bill, offers compensation for innocent persons convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Governor Jon Huntsman will have a ceremonial bill signing today for SB 16.
It is our duty to make sure the guilty are punished and held accountable. But this new law also affirms our obligation to provide a compassionate response in those rare cases where the wrong person is sent to prison, says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
The law will provide approximately $34,000, the average annual wage of a single Utah wage earner, for each year an innocent person has been imprisoned. The compensation is only for people who have been cleared by a court through DNA evidence or other means and not for those whose convictions have been reversed for technical legal reasons.
The Utah State Legislature passed SB 16 after hearing from Scott Hornoff, a former Rhode Island police detective who spent six years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Hornoff was exonerated after another man confessed and provided details of the crime that only the true killer would know.
Assistant Attorney General Creighton Horton worked with Utah State Senator Greg Bell and Representatives Douglas Aagard and David Litvack to help pass the law even though he is not aware of an innocent person being imprisoned in Utah. The idea of convicting and imprisoning an innocent person is unimaginable, said Horton. This legislation will address those rare but compelling cases where justice goes awry.
What:Ceremonial signing of the Exoneration and Innocence Assistance Bill
When: 3:30 p.m., Today, Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Where: Gold Room, Utah State Capitol
Who:Governor Jon Huntsman, Senator Greg Bell, Representative David Litvack, Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen, Assistant Attorney General Creighton Horton, Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Executive Director Robert Yeates, Rocky Mountain Innocence Center Director Katie Monroe, University of Utah Law Professor Dan Medwed and Attorney Heather Harris