Wrongful conviction compensation system could see overhaul in Massachusetts

In an effort to overhaul Massachusetts’ compensation system for people who have been wrongfully convicted, state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would not only expedite access to the money owed to the wrongly incarcerated, but also connect them with social services already available to returning citizens, but that continue to be withheld from those who are innocent.The proposal would revamp the current compensation system, which has long been criticized by justice reform advocates for its inability to provide immediate relief to people who have been wrongfully imprisoned.“I came home to nothing except the clothes on my back and my family and friends,” said Sean Ellis, whose battle to overturn his wrongful conviction was the subject of the Netflix docuseries Trial 4. Released from prison in 2015, Ellis testified Tuesday at a State House hearing on the proposal that he waited another six years before receiving any compensation or support from the government in 2021.“I didn’t know how to work a cell phone, I didn’t know how to manage my bank account, I didn’t know how to sign up for health care,” he said. “When you first come home, it’s like a big celebration. But then life happens and you become somewhat of a burden to those that love you and care about you.”The proposal, spearheaded by state Senator Patricia Jehlen of Somerville and Representatives Christopher Worrell of Boston and Jeffrey Roy of Franklin, would provide those wrongly convicted with $5,000 immediately upon release, and another $15,000 once legal proceedings begin.Additionally, Jehlen, a Democrat, said it would remove the cap on the maximum amount a person is allowed to be compensated, and lower the burden of proof to be the same as other civil cases, while also mandating that these cases be given priority in the justice system. Every wrongfully convicted person would also be entitled to a social service advocate to help set them up with basic services, such as an ID, health care, job training, and housing.The Department of Correction “takes care of every need you have when you’re in there,” said Robert Foxworth, another exoneree who testified Tuesday. “They feed you, they clothe you, your medical … but when they let you out, they just turn the key and set you free.”He added, “when we come out, we’re newborn again, we’re like babies. We’re lost, and we need help.”Under the current compensation system, it can years before wrongfully convicted people receive the money they are owed, forcing them to rely on the charity of friends and family, or search for a bed among already overcrowded emergency shelters.Foxworth voiced his frustration that, as an innocent man, he returned home with fewer available resources than people who were guilty. He told legislators that, after being released, he waited 18 months before receiving his first payment from the state. While he applauded the progress state officials have made in transitional services available to parolees, he questioned why those same services weren’t available to those wrongly convicted.“I shouldn’t have to live at the Pine Street Inn for years, I shouldn’t have to steal something to eat,” he said. “You wish you could just go back to your life before, but you can’t. It’s gone, everything’s gone.”Shar’Day Taylor, a social services advocate with the New England Innocence Project, highlighted housing as a particular concern for people wrongfully convicted, who aren’t eligible for other transitional housing programs typically offered to returning citizens. Those lucky enough to secure a spot often find themselves in housing limbo, unable to apply for affordable housing without proper identification.“They’re put on waiting lists that are backed up for decades,” Taylor said. “Exonerees are in competition with that population, and access to vouchers is nonexistent because we are not on the record as being present” in society.The burden of proof to win compensation after a wrongful conviction is also higher than other civil suits in Massachusetts, and many people seeking relief settle for much less than what a jury would award them. Those who do hold out for a jury trial can only receive a maximum of $1 million, regardless of how many years they spent in prison, even if jurors determine the person is entitled to more.Boston College Law Professor Sharon Beckman called the cap “regressive,” because “the more time an innocent person spends in prison, the less compensation per year they receive.”Senator Jehlen stressed that exonerees deserve to be paid the full amount for the time they never should have spent in prison, and that it is the state’s obligation to lift all barriers to those resources.“When a person is sentenced to prison, we say they’re paying a debt to society,” Jehlen said. “But what does society owe an innocent person after taking decades of their life unjustly?”Ivy Scott can be reached at ivy.scott@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott.

Paraquat Exposure Lawsuits Continue to be Filed

For years, farmers and agricultural workers have used pesticides to control weed and grass growth that can be detrimental to crops, dry out certain plants, and remove leaves from them before harvesting. But over time, regular pesticide use has caused plants to become resistant, leading to stronger – and in many cases, more toxic and dangerous – pesticides sprayed on crops.

Paraquat dichloride is a prominent example of a highly toxic, yet commonly used pesticide in the U.S. While it’s extremely effective and only sold commercially, the risks of using the pesticide are beginning to emerge. Research into the health effects of pesticides have demonstrated there may be serious dangers of working with paraquat.

In fact, studies have associated paraquat with a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease, among other illnesses. As a result, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against its manufacturers, including Syngenta and Chevron.

How Many People Die From Car Accidents Each Year?

Car accidents are annually responsible for approximately 1.3 million deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projects there were an estimated 42,915 traffic fatalities in 2021, a 10.5 percent increase compared to 2020 and the highest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history.
Fifty-five percent of motor vehicle deaths were the result of single-vehicle crashes, according to 2020 statistics published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) reports that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged five to 29. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and they are also the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad.
In addition to devastation from

59-year-old man mauled to death by a pack of dogs

man in California was mauled to death by a pack of dogs on Sunday, the Selma Police Department said in a press release. When police arrived on scene, an individual was attempting to separate the dogs from the 59-year-old victim.

First aid was administered and the man, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital, where he died, the department said. The number of dogs involved or type of breed was not specified.

The dogs escaped from a nearby residence and attacked the man while he was walking through the neighborhood, investigators learned. The person who tried to help the man was also bitten by one of the dogs and suffered a minor injury.

The dogs were captured by officers and are being quarantined. The owner of the dogs is cooperating with officials. CBS News has reached out to the Selma Police Department for further information.

In 2020,

Pitbull seized after child bitten on face and skateboarder mauled

The Village of Sebewaing Police Department seized a 100-pound pitbull named “Lucifer” on Thursday after the pitbull bit a 5-year-old girl on the face and mauled a man riding a skateboard earlier this month.

The girl was playing in the northern portion of town when she was bitten and suffered significant injuries to her face, chin and neck.

Those injuries included deep lacerations to her nose and cheek area and puncture wounds below her chin, with a bite missing her carotid artery by a few centimeters, according to a post made Friday afternoon on the Village of Sebewaing Police Department Facebook page.

The child was taken to a local hospital where she was stabilized and then transferred to a Saginaw hospital for reconstructive surgery due to the extent of her injuries.

The department immediately investigated the incident, and the owner was arrested on a municipal charge of unregistered/unvaccinated dog. The owner

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