By Teresa Johnson
Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved compensation of approximately $9 million for five men wrongly convicted and later exonerated.
The exonerees are set to receive different award amounts based on the amount of time they spent in prison.
Comptroller Peter Franchot said that they will receive approximately $78,000 for every year they spent in incarceration.
This amount represents the median household income in Maryland, and was chosen intentionally because those affected were deprived of having a house and receiving an income during the time they were incarcerated, Franchot said.
Two wrongly convicted men will be paid in four installments: Hubert James Williams with a total of $903,560, and Walter Lomax with total compensation of $3,026,840.
The wrongly convicted men who were granted compensation in eight installments are: Jerome Lamont Johnson with a total of $2,322,032; Lamar Johnson with a total of $953,672; and Clarence Shipley with a total of $2,102,792.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford sat in for Gov. Larry Hogan, who had initially suggested the board was not set up to determine compensation amounts.
Two weeks ago, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot urged Hogan to expedite the process.
“This payment of several million dollars is, in fact, a very small token of the heartfelt apologies of the state and all of our citizens to five people,” Kopp said Wednesday.
Kopp said she wanted to thank and acknowledge the sacrifice that the five men made and that this is their community’s way of recognizing their innocence and that what they went through was wrong.
Franchot said that the standard payment can be revisited for any other individuals who go through the same thing—even though, he said, he hopes this doesn’t happen again.
“We’re compensating people with money but we took from them decades of their lives, how do you pay that back?” Franchot said.
Walter Lomax told Capital News Service on Wednesday he’s thankful that the board has developed a method that can be passed along to others in similar situations and provide immediate satisfaction.
Lomax was released from prison in 2006 after serving almost 40 years for a murder he didn’t commit.
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