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Van Pelt legislation requires government to reimburse those found innocent after prior conviction

VanPelt SB 2650 040814People found wrongfully accused will no longer be liable for costs or fees incurred while in custody, and the innocent who have already paid these costs will be entitled to a refund, thanks in part to State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D – Chicago).

“People who are wrongfully convicted lose priceless time with family and friends, as well as job opportunities,” said Sen. Van Pelt. “The least we can do is not charge them for their undeserved time behind bars. Charging fees to the wrongfully accused is unjustifiable.”

Sen. Van Pelt intends for this legislation to alleviate the financial strain caused by defending oneself against prosecution, as well as encourage prosecutors to be more thoughtful in the charges they raise.

The measure passed the Senate today with a unanimous vote of 56-0.

The proposed legislation is similar to a Florida law that provides that acquitted or discharged defendants cannot be held accountable for court costs or any other charges accrued while detained.

Senate Bill 2650 now awaits House approval.