The death sentence for a Kern County man, reversed Monday, 26 years after he was arrested for murder. One of the big questions now: Will Vicente Benavides seek compensation after all those years he sat on California’s death row?
In wrongful conviction cases, state law provides a set compensation of $140 per day of incarceration. In Benavides’ case, that’s about $1.3 million. According to the California Victim Compensation Board, he’ll have to prove he didn’t commit the crime and he didn’t contribute to the conviction.
California law states a claim for wrongful imprisonment be filed with the board within a period of 2 years after release.
The Santa Clara University School of Law laid out the process from there. A hearing officer will make a recommendation whether or not to make a payment. The board then decides. If the board approves the claim, it then must be also approved by the legislature and signed by the governor. If the board doesn’t approve payment, it then goes through an appeals process.
According to the board’s website, the number of claims denied is more than double the number approved. Since 1981, the board denied 66 claims and approved 30.
In many cases the claims are denied because the board decided the person filling had contributed to their conviction.
Some wrongful conviction cases, around the nation, have settled for millions of dollars. Others are never compensated.