Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Florida Allows Compensation of Wrongfully Convicted Man 25 Years after Release

The Florida Legislature passed a bill in the closing minutes of its 2014 session that allows a man who served 21 years on a wrongful conviction to seek up to $2 million in compensation.

James Richardson was convicted in the 1967 poisoning deaths of his seven children. Richardson, a black man, was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to death. Decades later, the babysitter who served the children their last meal confessed she had committed the crime. Although she was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease, the governor ordered the case reopened.

A special prosecutor’s investigation concluded Richardson was convicted on the testimony of jail inmates beaten into perjury and via prosecutorial misconduct. That resulted in the court finding no basis for the conviction, and Richardson was released in 1989.

Since his release, Richardson has move to Wichita, Kansas. He attended the legislative session, but as it wound, down a political fight unrelated to the bill that would allow him to seek compensation was among the bills that were suspended by the deadlock. Richardson left for home. The next day, at 9:15 P.M. the legislative passed the bill that would allow Richardson to seek Compensation.

Florida law allows those who were wrongfully compensated and later declared innocent may seek $50,000 for each year imprisoned. The new law allows Richardson to seek compensation based on the strength of the special prosecutor’s investigation and his release from prison. Richardson said he was thankful for the state’s acknowledgment that he was innocent and not just a free man.

 “It’s not ever going to be over,” he said in downplaying the importance of compensation. “It can’t pay back what I lost.”


As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login