Approximately half of the states, and the federal government, have laws on the books providing for compensation for persons who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. What is a year of wrongful imprisonment worth? Those statutes that attempt to put a dollar amount on stolen freedom value it quite differently. For instance, Florida's new legislation allows for up to $2 million in compensation for wrongful incarceration (although the law is extremely restrictive as to who qualifies). New Hampshire, on the other hand, caps the amount at $20,000, no matter how many years of imprisonment were involved. Other jurisdictions come out somewhere in between.
How do we measure up in Illinois? Our compensation law was recently improved in many respects, and the amounts were slightly increased, but our cap is just $199,150. That means that if Anthony McKinney (a Center on Wrongful Convictions client who has been locked up for 30 years and who recently petitioned for release based on actual innocence) were exonerated today, he would receive $6,638.33 for each year he spent behind bars as an innocent man. You be the judge of whether that is adequate or fair.