From today’s New York Times editorial page:
What is a year of your life worth? How about 10 years? Or 20? In many ways the question is unanswerable: Who can assign a dollar amount to the experience of watching a child grow up, of being able to care for an elderly parent?
But when the government has wrongfully convicted and imprisoned someone, a cash payout is the most meaningful way to make amends and achieve some measure of belated justice.…
Thirty states, the federal government and the District of Columbia have laws providing for compensation to the wrongfully convicted — from $5,000 per year in Wisconsin to $80,000 per year in Texas. But, over all, almost a third of those exonerated get nothing.
Wait, let’s go over that one more time: A third of the persons wrongfully imprisoned receive no compensation from the government? What to make of policymakers who manage to spend billions of dollars and yet say there is no room in the budget for compensating the victims of government mistakes or misconduct?