Md. Governor Calls for Process to Compensate 5 Wrongly Imprisone - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Md. Governor Calls for Process to Compensate 5 Wrongly Imprisoned

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(Photo: MGN Online) (Photo: MGN Online)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Gov. Larry Hogan called on attorneys Wednesday to work out a process to quickly and fairly compensate five men who were wrongly convicted of crimes in Maryland.           

Hogan called on counsel for the Board of Public Works to work with the state's chief administrative law judge to immediately put a process in place.           

"All of them experienced pain and indignities while they were incarcerated," Hogan said. "There's no question that they deserve to be justly compensated as they work to rebuild their lives, and I think all of us strongly agree with that."           

Hogan is a member of the board, along with Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot.           

Nearly 50 lawmakers called on the board earlier this month to compensate the men, who spent a total of 120 years in prison. Attorneys are seeking a combined $12 million in compensation. In a letter, they wrote that the board exercised the responsibility of compensating exonerees from 1984 to 2004.           

But Hogan said the board doesn't have the expertise or personnel to determine actual damages in such cases. The governor, a Republican, also criticized the legislature for failing to pass a measure to address the issue. He said he plans to push for legislative action next year.           

Kopp pointed out that she served on the board in 2003 and 2004, the last time the board approved compensation for exonerees. She said funds were allocated based on a per diem that would be about $75,000 a year for each person.           

"We did it," Kopp, a Democrat, said. "It's in the law. The law does say the Board of Public Works may do this, and the Board of Public Works did do this, and I would just urge us to move very rapidly to take care of these men who are in the community now but whose years in prison we can never restore."           

Franchot also called for quick action.           

"These folks need to be compensated. It needs to happen now. I'm delighted that our staffs are going to be working on this, and I'm sure we'll come up with something that is fair and compassionate and timely," Franchot, a Democrat, said.           

Maryland judges and prosecutors have found that petitioners Jerome Johnson, Lamar Johnson, Walter Lomax, Clarence Shipley and Hubert James Williams are innocent, and some petitions filed by attorneys have been pending without a response for over a year.

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