TRENTON, N.J. – Innocent individuals who spent years of their lives committed for treatment or on the sex offender list will be able to seek compensation through legislation that was discussed by Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday.
The bill (A1037) will expand the state’s wrongful-conviction compensation law and help those like Dion Harrell, who spent four years in prison and almost two decades as a registered sex offender for a rape he did not commit in Monmouth County. He was exonerated through DNA evidence.
“Imagine trying to move on after being wrongfully imprisoned. Imagine the struggle it would take to find a job that would support you and your family and how immensely difficult that would be,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Constant reminders of the injustice you’ve endured as you explained to potential employers the gap in your employment history.”
Under the new measure, an innocent person would be eligible for $25,000 for every year they were on parole, probation or the sex offender list.
“Our laws do not align with our judicial system. The one that we all believe in so much,” said DiMaso. “This legislation would make that correction and ensure these innocent individuals, who have suffered so much already, were able and are able to pursue a monetary recourse.”
The bill will be scheduled for a vote in a future committee meeting.