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Kansas bill that would compensate wrongly imprisoned gets Legislature approval

TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Kansas Senate and House of Representatives have unanimously approved a bill that would compensate innocent people who were wrongly imprisoned.

Kansas is one of 18 states that does not pay out any compensation for wrongly incarcerated people once they are exonerated.

The issue made big headlines last fall when the state of Kansas freed Lamonte McIntyre after 23 years for a crime he did not commit.

On Wednesday, HB 2579 passes in the Kansas Senate. On Thursday, the House also passed the bill unanimously. If Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signs the bill, which he is expected to do next week, wrongly imprisoned people like McIntyre could be granted $65,000 for every year of their incarceration.

“It’s going to provide them not only with a monetary settlement but it’s also going to address those needs that they have: education, healthcare, housing assistance,” State Senator Molly Baumgardner (R-Louisburg) said.

Floyd Bledsoe is another Kansas man who spent 16 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Bledsoe told FOX4 he's grateful for a fresh start but admits there are some things no amount of money can restore.

“I’d be more than glad to trade anybody that money for the 16 years of my life back,” Bledsoe said. “I was 23 years old. I had two kids, one was nine months old the other was two. Now they’re 21 and 18, and I just saw them for the first time a little over year ago. So they can keep the money if they want to give me all that back.”

Kansans who were wrongly imprisoned and had their sentence vacated would still need a ruling from a district court judge before any compensation payments are doled out.

If the bill is signed, anyone who was exonerated after being wrongfully imprisoned in Kansas has until July 1, 2020, to file a compensation claim.