Kansas legislature unanimously passes law paying wrongfully convicted people $65,000 for each year they spend in jail
Lamonte McIntyre, a Kansas man who spent 23 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted. Image via screengrab.

The Kansas legislature passed a law giving restitution to people who spent years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of crimes they didn't commit.

According to the Wichita Eagle, lawmakers unanimously passed the bill in the Kansas state legislature that's now on the way to the governor's desk. If Gov. Jeff Coyler (R) signs the bill into law, qualified recipients will get $65,000 for each year they spent behind bars under wrongful convictions.

"The state today has taken a step in saying 'we recognize the horror, the waking nightmare' and that we will compensate these exonerees,"  Sen. David Haley (D) told the newspaper. "It's a proud day."

Anyone wrongfully convicted of a felony would prove in district or federal courts that they did not commit the crime.

A potential recipient for the new restitution plan is Lamonte McIntyre, a man tried and convicted of a double murder he did not commit in 1994 when he was just 17 years old. He was sent to prison for 23 years and finally released in Oct. 2017 — only to learn he'd receive no compensation for the time spent behind bars on wrongful charges.

When the Eagle reached McIntyre for comment, he said the plan would be "a good start" to undo the damage the system had done to his life and those of so many others.

"It will be helpful," he said. "It's great for something to be done for a person in that situation. After being gone for decades in prison, you need help with health care. You need stability. You need insurance. You need Social Security. You need something to set you up and not be so far behind in life."

If the bill passes and he can prove his case to the courts, McIntyre will receive almost $1.5 million — "a one-time payment of about $373,000 and then $80,000 a year for the next 14 years."