No compensation for Lamar Johnson, innocence project launches fundraiser
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- Lamar Johnson spent 28 years in prison for a murder he swears he did not do.
He’ll now have the huge task of rebuilding his life.
Many states offer compensation for people whose criminal convictions are vacated. In Missouri, it’s very limited and Lamar Johnson will not qualify because the case did not hinge on DNA.
“In Missouri, that ability is really just non-existent. So Missouri does not provide compensation for individuals who are wrongfully convicted unless they’re exonerated through a very specific procedure in which that person is requesting DNA testing and that DNA testing leads to evidence that proves their innocence,” explained Tricia Rojo Bushnell with the Midwest Innocence Project.
The Midwest Innocence Project has launched a GoFundMe to help Johnson after he was freed. It has already raised thousands of dollars.
Another exoneree from Missouri, Kevin Strickland, also turned to crowdfunding when he was released after 43 years in prison. People in Kansas City and across the nation donated more than $1.7 million to help him.
Strickland says he was grateful for the support and expected to be homeless upon his release.
Other states like Kansas have clear compensation packages for those wrongfully convicted.
Kansas offers $65,000 per year. In Johnson’s case, that would amount to $1.82 million.
Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, according to the Innocence Project. It’s a factor in 69 percent of all exonerations, including Johnson’s.
Johnson also went to Jefferson City after his conviction was vacated to urge lawmakers to pay him and others who have been wrongfully convicted. Two Democratic state senators from the St. Louis area have proposed legislation to give $65,000 for every year someone is wrongfully imprisoned.
The only scenario where Johnson would have been compensated for his wrongful imprisonment under current Missouri law is if DNA exonerated him.
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