Maryland plan to compensate men who were exonerated is due Oct. 30

Maryland’s Board of Public Works will move ahead with a plan to compensate five men who served a combined 120 years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

Hubert James Williams, Clarence Shipley Jr., Walter Lomax, Lamar Johnson and Jerome Johnson have asked for a total of $12 million from the state.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who leads the Board of Public Works, announced Wednesday morning that he’s directing the staff to come up with a compensation plan by Oct. 30, at the board’s next meeting.

Hogan — who argued that arriving at a compensation package was a complex legal issue and should be decided by administrative law judges — said Wednesday that he will continue to seek their recommendations. He also wants the members of the General Assembly to act on the issue.

“We are going to continue to push for them to finally take action on legislation, which would lay out specific guidelines in the future for compensating any additional exonerees as we move forward,” Hogan said.

Under Maryland law, the Board of Public Works has the authority to make the compensation payments, something that Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who also sits on the board, has pointed out in past discussions.

All three members of the board — Hogan, Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot — agree that the five men must be given compensation for the time they spent behind bars.

“The five individuals who were wrongfully convicted experienced unimaginable pain and indignities while incarcerated for crimes they did not commit,” Hogan said. “The legislature attempted but has failed to address this issue for several years.”

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