**Updated 10:15 a.m. Oct. 1
A bipartisan group of lawmakers Thursday introduced new legislation that increases how much compensation wrongfully convicted citizens could receive from the state after their exoneration.
Wisconsin currently offers the lowest compensation levels in the country; $5,000 per year and a total of $25,000. Under the proposed bill, exonerees could qualify for up to $50,000 per year up to a total of $1 million; access to transitional services and protects the state in the event the individual wins a third-party settlement by requiring the exoneree to return to the state the same amount as their award from any potential settlement.
State Sens. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine and Fred Risser, D-Madison, along with Reps. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, and Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, made their announcement the day before they begin circulating the bill to coincide with National Wrongful Conviction Day, a joint statement reads.
The $50,000 annual amount was chosen to reflect Wisconsin’s median household income, Kooyenga said in another statement released Thursday.
“This bill puts Wisconsin’s wrongful conviction compensation structure on par with many other states and with the federal standard, while also protecting Wisconsin tax dollars,” Wanggaard said Thursday. “The bill has a cap on compensation and also includes a mechanism for recovery of funds in the case of recovery a third-party bad actor.”