Editor’s note: Alvin Sykes, a human rights activist in Kansas City, Kansas, recently sent this letter to the Wyandotte Daily concerning a bill that would reimburse wrongfully convicted individuals for the years they spent in prison. Sykes and Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., have been working on a bill on this topic for 10 years. Sykes spoke at a legislative hearing on a bill on this topic earlier this week.
To Kansas State Sen. David Haley and to whom else it may concern:
As both a veteran certified human rights worker, with over 40 years experience in the victim advocacy field nationwide, and as a citizen of the state of Kansas, I am writing this letter in vigorous support of SB 336 and HB 2579 (Compensation for the Wrongly Convicted).
I firmly believe it is fundamentally unfair and just plain wrong for the state of Kansas to wrongly convict innocent people, such as Lamonte McIntyre, Floyd Bledsoe and Richard Jones (successfully represented by the Innocence Project) and then put them out on the street after years of incarceration without any financial support or compensation to restart their life!
Furthermore it is a slap-in-the-face irony that they would have received more resources and support from the state of Kansas if they had been guilty!
Even though $80,000 compensation for each year served wrongly in prison is not enough for the injustice inflicted against them, it does represent a good start!
Two years ago the state of Kansas passed a law to significantly change the eyewitness identification procedures for crime investigation by law enforcement to radically reduce the occurrence of wrongful convictions in the future. Now it is past time to justly compensate those who have been wrongly convicted in the past and future!
Therefore I strongly urge passage of this legislation, with all deliberate speed, so that the day will come sooner, rather than later, when all people will come before a bar of justice where truth rules, justice prevails and the community has credible confidence in the courts verdicts of guilt or Innocence for all!
Kansas City, Kansas