You Spent Years In Prison For A Crime You Did Not Commit. What Does The State Owe You?
By Phoebe Jones
“Peacocks are sacred birds, you know,” John Floyd tells me on a cool day in mid-February outside of his home in Ridgeland, Mississippi. We are seated next to a pond behind an unassuming apartment complex off a busy road. This isn’t the first time John interrupts himself to talk about animals.
John Floyd, now 71 years old, served 36.5 years at America’s largest maximum-security prison, the Louisiana State Penitentiary (better known as Angola), for a murder he did not commit. Innocence Project New Orleans took on Floyd’s case in 2001 and after years of uncovering evidence that had not been turned over in the initial case, Floyd was finally exonerated of the crime in 2018.
Floyd now lives in his own space with a tiny dog named Maggie.
“I'm living that life now that I should have been living many years ago,” he said. “It’s peaceful around here. I got good neighbors. I've got my little friend, right here. She won't leave my side.”
But he might be in a very different place if he hadn’t been wrongfully imprisoned so many decades ago.
Under Louisiana’s current law, exonerated people must apply for compensation from the state for wrongful imprisonment. The process may take years, and even if granted, wrongly convicted people receive only $25,000 a year with a cap of 10 years, and as of 2019, they will also get a one-time payment of $80,000.
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