A landmark moment for wrongfully convicted Ohioans arrived today, promising a measure of justice and smoother integration back into society, when Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law House Bill 411.
The new law opens the door for a number of exonerees to receive financial compensation for the years they spent wrongfully imprisoned, and certain hurdles that in the past have thrown the question of compensation being received into question have now been removed from the process.
“Protecting the rights and freedom of our citizens is my top priority, and when those rights are violated we have a responsibility to take action,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), one of the sponsors of the bipartisan bill, along with Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati).
“Thanks to this bipartisan effort, Ohioans who have been wrongfully imprisoned will soon have a better path forward to reclaim their lives and receive the justice they deserve,” Sykes added.
The bill was sponsored in the Ohio Senate by Sen. John Eklund (R-18th District) and Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-28th District).
The new law specifically addresses those cases where convictions were obtained despite what are known as Brady violations. Those are cases where it is ruled that the prosecution illegally withheld evidence that could point to the real perpetrators of the crime.
“The collaborative effort behind House Bill 411 led to a narrow but important piece of legislation that drew bipartisan support in both chambers of the Ohio Legislature,” said Pierce Reed, program director of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) and one of the most active advocates in helping the legislation to advance. “After more than a year of debate, the overwhelming majority of legislators recognized the impact of Brady violations on the lives of Ohioans and the need to provide eligibility for compensation to innocent men and women whose convictions were tainted by violations of their fundamental rights to a fair trial.” Continue reading