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Watson Coleman & Johnson Bill to Increase Assistance for Wrongfully Convicted and Imprisoned Residents Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bonnie Watson Coleman and Gordon Johnson to increase the amount of compensation awarded to those wrongfully convicted and imprisoned and provide for additional services for such persons has been signed into law.

“Those who have suffered through wrongful imprisonment deserve reasonable and adequate compensation that is up-to-date with current standards,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This law had not been updated for 16 years, so it was past time that we did so to ensure people that who endured this real-life nightmare get the help they need.”

“This is a reasonable law to help those who in some cases have lost years of their lives through no fault of their own,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “If someone is wrongfully convicted and sent to jail, then that person should get appropriate compensation to help rebuild their lives.”

The law (A-1640/3066) increases the statutory damage amounts awarded in lawsuits that may be brought by a person convicted and imprisoned for a crime which the person did not commit.

Prior to this bill becoming law, damages could not exceed twice the amount of the claimant’s income in the year before the incarceration or $20,000 for each year of incarceration, whichever was greater. The newly signed law increases the amount per year of incarceration to $50,000 per year.

A claimant may also be awarded other non-monetary relief, including vocational training, tuition assistance, counseling, housing assistance and health insurance coverage as appropriate.