Man wrongfully imprisoned for 17 years calls for change to WA law

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 27 at 7:24 PM

A man was wrongfully convicted of rape and sent to prison for 17 years is calling for change to Washington law.

Alan Northrop, 48, was mistakenly identified by a witness and a jury convicted him. He served his sentence from 1993 until 2010, when DNA evidence proved he didn’t commit the crime.

“My family was there, my close friends, it was just overwhelming,” said Northrop.

He was a free man with only $2,500 to his name after working his 42 cent an hour prison job.
Washington is one of 27 states where exonerated inmates aren’t compensated for time served.

“When government makes a mistake, we say we’re sorry,” said Rep. Tina Orwall, (D) Des Moines.

ESHB 1341’s sponsor, Rep. Tina Orwall and The Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization, testified with Northrop in front of the State Senate Law & Justice Committee Wednesday afternoon.

The proposed law would give $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment and also include benefits like college tuition waivers, job training and counseling.

“For now, there’s nothing coming to someone that’s released. It’s like well, here you go, good luck,” said Northrop.

Those services are only offered to former guilty prisoners. With no credit and few assets, Northrop relies on the help of family and friends while working an $11 an hour job.

“I can’t really get ahead. I can keep up with things,” said Northrop.

While compensation will help, there are some things he can’t get back, like watching his three children grow up.

“That’s my life, that’s what it used to be and I want it back,” he said.

Northrop says the bill would give the innocent a shot at getting their lives back.

This is the third attempt to pass a bill that addresses wrongful convictions. It’s already passed by the House and could be put up to a vote in the State Senate by Wednesday.
 

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