Compensation Bill Gives Andrew Johnson Hope

Submitted By: Xavier Walton, xwalton@k2tv.com

     One bill that will come before the legislature could pave the way for others in Wyoming. The compensation bill would pay back those that have been wrongfully convicted. If you recall, last year Andrew Johnson was exonerated after being incarcerated wrongfully for more than 2 decades.

     Senate File 30 - the Compensation Bill, would pay back Johnson for the nearly 24 years he lost.

     K2's Xavier Walton sat down with Johnson, and has the story.


     Let's start by the numbers. 39 - that's how old Andrew Johnson was when he was arrested and charged for rape.  24 - that's the number of years he spent behind bars having his freedom held hostage.  And 30 - that's the senate file that could be what he, Andrew Johnson needs to get his life back on track.

     With that there's hope for Johnson.  A compensation bill is on the floor in this years legislative session.  If passed those wrongfully convicted will get back pay for each day that's been taken.

"It doesn't give you a future, it just gives you some money right now," said Andrew Johnson, Wyoming exoneree.

"Can you use the money right now?"

"Oh yes i can definitely use the money," replied Johnson.

     In a previous one on one interview with Andrew we asked how do you want your story to end?

"That wyoming made it right. Bottom line, that Wyoming made it right."

     In effort to make it right, we go back to the numbers, starting where we left off, 30, as in Senate File 30, the Compensation Bill.

"Getting out of prison is one thing, getting back into society is a different issue altogether," said attorney Tom Long.

     The bill would allow for $75 a day, that's $30,000 a year.  However, there's a max at 10 years and a cap of $300,000.

"That's a little low," said Long.

     Neighboring state Colorado pays wrongfully incarcerated $70,000 a year, that's more double what Wyoming's proposing.  But before we talk dollar bills, the bill itself has to try its luck with the legislature.

     First, in the Senate , SF - 30 needs a 2/3 vote because it’s a budget year.  Next up, the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by the floor for three readings.  From there, Senate File 30 heads to the House.  Then the House Judiciary Committee, followed by three more readings on the house floor. But after all that, SF - 30's fate goes before the Governor, he can make it happen.

"I think we are willing to admit that nothings perfect and when our system doesn't properly function, its not just too bad Andrew," said Long.

"I'm the guy. I'm just going to lay it down, you make the decision," said Johnson.  "I'm just going to conversate you and tell you what problems I'm having out here in society."