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A05306 Summary:

COSPNSRBenedetto, D'Urso, Barron, Mosley, Colton, Crespo, Williams, Rosenthal L, McDonough, De La Rosa, Dickens, Cook, Sepulveda, Blake, Simon, Hyndman, Jaffee, Peoples-Stokes, Hooper, Gottfried, Ortiz, Morinello, Solages, Titone, Seawright
MLTSPNSRCahill, Hikind, Miller MG, Wright
Amd §8-b, Ct Claims Act; add §13-a, Tax L
Relates to claims for unjust conviction and imprisonment.
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A05306 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the court of claims act and the tax law, in relation to claims for unjust conviction and imprisonment   PURPOSE: To provide compensation and other benefits in the Court of Claims for people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in New York State.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 names this act "the wrongfully convicted recovery act." Section 2 amends section 8-b of the court of claims act to establish remedies for responding to claims for unjust conviction and imprison- ment, and to establish conditions under which a person is eligible for remedies under this section. Section 3 adds a new section 13-a to the tax law. This section exempts cash awards granted under this section to be exempt from taxation. Section 4 provides an effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: There have been approximately 1,810 exonerations of wrongfully convicted individuals nationwide since 1989; 214 of them in New York State. Of those exonerated in New York, 38 were based on DNA evidence, eight of which occurred in the past 5 years. There have also been exonerations in non-DNA cases involving false confessions, eye-witness error, false evidence, and police, prosecutor or judicial misconduct. In New York State, the total years served for those who were exonerated was in excess of 2,000, averaging 9.74 years in prison per person for crimes they did not commit. In 2014, the Brooklyn DA created the Conviction Review Unit (CRU) which has exonerated 20 people through 2016. One of the most recent set of exonerations from the CRU involved three men who were found guilty of starting a fire that killed a mother and her five children in 1980 inside a Park Slope brownstone. The CRU "concluded that the single eyewitness who connected them to the crime was a habitual liar who recanted on her death bed" and that the science used to determine that the fire was arson was in fact junk science. Current fire experts determined that the fire was probably accidental. Two of the exonerated defendants served over 30 years each in prison and the third died behind bars. People who are wrongfully convicted often spend decades in prison and emerge with no money and few job skills, have not worked long enough to receive social security benefits, and have little or no financial support from family or friends. They may need extensive therapy, have medical issues, or simply be too old to participate significantly in the work force. It is imperative that the State compensate these individuals for the time they have been wrongfully incarcerated and give them the ability to make a fresh start in the years remaining to them. This bill would give the Court of Claims the authority to provide broad financial relief to such individuals and to give them health benefits and access to re-entry programs.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2016: A10169-A referred to judiciary. 2017: A5306- Referred to Judiciary. 2018: A5306-A Referred to Judiciary.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.   LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.
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