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State will soon run out of money for wrongfully convicted fund

Village hopes a private prison brings jobs, money
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California inmates will be housed in a Baldwin prison beginning in 2011

The state will soon need more money to pay for potential awards to those who were wrongfully convicted.

A state law says people who meet certain criteria can receive $50,000 for every year they spent incarcerated.

There are two people who will likely receive awards from the fund soon – and that would wipe out almost all the money currently set aside.

Now, the state attorney general’s office wants to work with the Legislature to make sure there’s enough money allocated when it passes the next budget.

Kelly Rossman-McKinney is a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“We’re already working with others; we’re talking in particular about the Legislature to provide them with the kind of information they need to determine how much will be [necessary] to fully fund the account,” she says.

Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) worked on the bill that became the compensation law. She says the amount of money the state could eventually need to pay down the road is significant.

“It is really unfortunate that we haven’t made sure that we have enough money to be able to fulfill that promise but I’m hopeful that we can get that resolved,” she says.

Representative Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) chairs the House committee that works on the state budget.

“It’s something they’re entitled to and the past Legislature actually put some money in it. We’re looking to see what the governor’s suggestion is for this year’s budget,” he says.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to present her budget recommendation in March.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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