State Watch

Maryland awards exonerated former death row inmate $400K

A man exonerated after nearly a decade in prison will receive more than $400,000 from the Maryland Board of Public Works. 

Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of rape and murder in 1985 before DNA evidence exonerated him nine years later. The now 60-year-old will be the first to receive a payment as part of a new program that began in July and targets people who were wrongly convicted, according to The Washington Post

The law requires that the wrongfully convicted person’s payment equal the five-year average of the state’s median annual income for each year the person was imprisoned. It also allows affected people who were compensated before July 1, 2005, to request more funds from the state. 

Following his release and a pardon from Maryland’s then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer (D), Bloodsworth, who was the first death row inmate freed using DNA-based evidence, was paid $300,000 in 1994 for his wrongful conviction, the Post reported. 

The new system’s calculation would have entitled Bloodsworth to $721,237.40, but the administrative judge deducted the $300,000 Bloodsworth was already paid. As such, the exoneree will receive additional funds totaling $421,237.40, according to the Post.

The Board of Public Works, which approves compensation-related recommendations from an administrative law judge, has three members including state Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D), Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Comptroller Peter Franchot (D).

“Maryland is attempting to right the wrong that we committed,” Kopp said to the Post. 

Before the creation of this new system, the board would make decisions about how and when exonerees got paid, if they were paid at all, the Post noted. 

Tags Death row exoneration Maryland

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