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Exonerated Convict Is Ready To Test Washington’s New Law

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

A new law that took effect this week in Washington allows people wrongfully convicted of crimes to sue the state for damages. Alan Northrop will be one of the first to file a claim.

He was convicted of rape, burglary and kidnapping in 1993 and was in prison for 17 years before being exonerated and released. Under the terms of the law he can file a claim of up to $50,000 per year of imprisonment and $25,000 for every year on parole.

The state could also reimburse legal fees and pay child support owed. And it could help foot the bill for the person and their children to attend in-state colleges.

Despite that Northrop says the amount doesn’t begin to compensate him for what he went through behind bars. “Oh, absolutely not. I mean there is no price for that. I mean the mental anguish alone, despite everything else, is priceless to the negative.”

Northrop says what he regrets the most was missing seeing his son grow up. When he went into jail, the boy was two. He was 19 by the time Northrop was finally released.

Interview with Alan Northrop and Jackie McMurtrie of the Innocence Project Northwest, May 30, 2011, produced by Amelia Templeton.

Northrop spoke with KUOW’s Marcie Sillman on Weekday Tuesday.