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Compensating for lost time

Tommy and Raymond Highers served 26 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

"It was an out-of-body experience."

That's how Raymond Highers described the moment when the judge sentenced him and his brother Tommy Highers to life without parole for a murder they didn't commit.

Konrad Montgomery
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

When the police knocked on his door, it never crossed Konrad Montgomery's mind that they were there for him. 

The authorities were looking for a suspect in an armed robbery that took place on Detroit's east side, and a cell phone involved in the situation was traced back to Montgomery. The robbery occurred roughly 11 miles from where Montgomery claimed to be at the time of the incident. But since he was making money by selling used cell phones, he was caught up in the case. 

Montgomery was tried and convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder. He spent nearly three years in prison before he was exonerated. 

Julie Baumer
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

"You can just imagine the hell." 

The hell that Julie Baumer describes is her life after being tried and convicted for a crime that she did not commit. She spent more than four years in prison after the courts found her guilty of child abuse involving her five-week-old nephew. When she was ultimately found to be innocent of the charges, she was set free.

Public Act 343 makes Michigan the 32nd state to provide exonorees with compensation for time served.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Just try to imagine how it would feel to be accused of a crime. Wrongfully accused. You didn't do it. But you're convicted and sent to prison.

Then, miraculously, you get another shot and your innocence is proven.

You're released with absolutely no compensation, and no help re-entering the world outside of those prison walls.

That was the case in Michigan until just last week when Public Act 343 took effect. With that, Michigan became the 32nd state to provide exonorees with compensation for time served.