Back in 2016 the Michigan legislators passed the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act which required Michigan to pay $50,000 to wrongfully imprisoned Michigan residents for each year spent in prison. Ex-inmates would make the claim through a lawsuit filed against the state in the Michigan Court of Claims.

To date approximately $6.5 million has been appropriated to the compensation fund. As of early March of this year the fund had a balance in of $323,800, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis.

A bill sponsored by state Representative Steve Johnson, R-Wayland appropriated $10 million to the fund and passed with unanimous support in the Legislature.  Governor Whitmer vetoed the appropriation via a line-item veto because she did not like the way the Legislature passed the bill.

Governor Whitmer has made budget provisions that would allocated the funding through an appropriations bill.  The Governor’s proposed fiscal 2019 and 2020 budgets did included the $10 million and she stated she:

"would support an appropriation of money to the fund in a supplemental appropriations bill or a general appropriations bill”

The Governor’s spokeswoman Tiffany Brown stated:

We have been transparent throughout the process as our initial recommendation included the funding as part of the supplemental

State Representative Johnson said:

She ought to be ashamed of herself for playing political games with people’s lives…If it was up to me, I would say the first vote we take Tuesday is a veto override, but we’ll see what the speaker decides

If these funds were supported unanimously in the Legislature and the Governor stated she would sign a bill funding the compensation fund to the tune of $10 million dollars what does it matter how the legislation was passed to fund the compensation fund just fund it.  It appears she wanted to use the wrongfully imprisoned people as pawns for political leverage to pass her supplemental bill, which contains other spending priorities.

A lawyer for many of these wrongfully convicted Michiganders, Richard Phillips stated:

It's horrific to think we could go to trial and win and then there’s no money to pay this man…He’ll be waiting for politicians to finish playing their games.

He is correct it is “horrific” what Governor Whitmer is doing.

One of his clients was imprisoned for 45 years on armed robbery and murder charges that he was never guilty of.

How do you put a price on being wrongfully convicted and spending any time in prison let alone 45 years?  Does $50,000 for each year even come close to compensating you for that?

I do not think so but it is at least better than nothing.

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