OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Senate fiscal committee has approved a measure that would allow people who were wrongfully convicted to seek compensation from the state for the years they lost behind bars.
Possible beneficiaries of the proposed law include Yakima resident Ted Bradford, whom jurors acquitted of rape charges in a second trial that followed his conviction in connection with a September 1995 attack on a woman in a Yakima neighborhood.
A judge ruled that newly examined DNA evidence warranted the second trial. Bradford spent about nine years in jail and has maintained his innocence.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the bill Tuesday, the same day as a key deadline for bills that have fiscal impact.
The measure now heads to the Rules Committee in advance of a possible vote by the full Senate. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill last month.
The measure would allow people who were wrongfully convicted to file a claim in superior court for damages against the state.
The claimant must show his or her conviction was reversed or vacated based on significant evidence of innocence, and that they did not commit the crime they were charged with.
Once a judge or jury determines the claim is valid, the court can award damages.