OLYMPIA – The state House on Friday approved a measure that allows people who were wrongfully convicted to seek compensation from the state for the years they lost behind bars.
The measure passed on a 95-2 vote Friday night and now heads to the Senate for consideration. If passed, Washington would join 27 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government with similar laws on the books.
The measure would allow people who were wrongfully convicted to file a claim in superior court for damages against the state. The claimant must show their conviction was reversed or vacated based on significant evidence of innocence, and that they did not commit the crime they were charged with. Once a judge or jury determines the claim is valid, they can award damages.
Currently, the only option someone has is to sue the state, but they are required to sue on some basis other than the fact that they were wrongfully convicted, such as intentional wrongdoing or prosecutorial misconduct.