Exonerated convicts ask Washington to pay up for lost time

SEATTLE -- Former prisoners who were found to be wrongly convicted are asking the state to compensate them for their lost time.

Three exonerated men and the law students who helped free them arrived in Olympia on Thursday to make their case.

Larry Davis served time for a rape he did not commit. It took 17 years, but Davis -- with help from the Innocence Project -- finally cleared his named.

"When you're innocent, you're innocent, and it will show," Davis said.

A team from the Innocence Project found DNA evidence that proved Davis was not the rapist, and now they're asking state lawmakers to compensate inmates $50,000 for every year lost in prison.

Alan Northrop was also wrongly convicted of rape and said the worst part of his ordeal was not being able to raise his kids. He, too, was set free when DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Another former convict, James Anderson, was exonerated after the Innocence Project helped him prove he was in California at the time of a robbery for which he served 5 years in prison.

"When I got released in Washington, no one apologized to me," Anderson said.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said that is wrong.

"We think when the government makes a mistake, we should say we're sorry," he said.

Similar proposals to compensate exonerated prisoners have come up before, and while they've found support from lawmakers, no one has been able to find money in the state's tight budgets.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Tina Orwall, hopes this will be the year the bill passes.

"I do have more hope this year," said the SeaTac Democrat. "I think there are a lot more people advocating for the bill."

Currently, only four former inmates would qualify for compensation, but the Innocence Project is working on a few dozen other cases for prisoners they believe are innocent.