Exonerated Man Wrongfully Imprisoned 23 Years Gets $25,000

By Jason Beahm on January 04, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

How much would you expect to be paid if you were wrongly incarcerated on a murder conviction for 23 years? A million dollars? Five million? Twenty million?

What about $25,000? That's the sum that the newly exonerated man, Robert Lee Stinson, has received. That figure works out to about $90 a month. The Wisconsin Claims Board, which handles such decisions, has filed a request for an additional $90,000, The Wisconsin State Journal reports. They noted that the award was inadequate, but their hands were tied by the law.

Wisconsin has one of the most unfavorable compensations programs in the country for the wrongly convicted. By law, the wrongfully convicted may receive a max of up to $5,000 a year for wrongful imprisonment, with the total capped at $25,000. According to The Innocence Project, of the states with a compensation program, Wisconsin's law is the second worst, trailing only New Hampshire, which caps compensation at $20,000.

Stinson was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1985. He was tried in the death of Ione Cychosz, a 63-year-old woman from Milwaukee. A single piece of seemingly crucial evidence tied Stinson to the murder: bite marks that "experts" said matched Stinson. However, in 2009, a judge ordered Stinson released after DNA evidence exonerated him.

After becoming an exonerated man, Stinson sued for compensation. However, according to his attorney, amazingly, Stinson is far from angry or bitter. "[He is] a kind, gentle and gracious human being who has dealt with this loss in an admirable way," his attorney Heather Donnell said.

So what's next for Stinson? He plans to go back to school. The subject? Criminal justice.

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