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Hogan: Maryland will offer payments to five wrongly convicted men by Oct. 31

Four of the exonerees, clockwise from top left: Walter Lomax, Hubert James Williams, Lamar Johnson and Clarence Shipley Jr.
Four of the exonerees, clockwise from top left: Walter Lomax, Hubert James Williams, Lamar Johnson and Clarence Shipley Jr. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state will decide by month’s end how much to pay five wrongly convicted men who spent decades in prison and are seeking millions in compensation.

“I don’t believe that these five individuals should have to wait any longer,” Hogan (R) said Wednesday at a meeting of the state Board of Public Works, which he chairs.

The board has been under increasing pressure to address petitions submitted by the men over the past 20 months. Hogan had told the board’s general counsel to work on a memorandum of understanding with the chief administrative law judge on how to structure the payments, saying existing guidelines were not sufficient.

On Wednesday, however, the governor said that the process was proving to be complicated and the five exonerees should get their cases decided before the memorandum is complete.

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D), the other two members of the board, said Oct. 2 that they wanted to take action within two weeks. On Wednesday, each said they were pleased a resolution is near.

“I wish it were decided today, but I think it’s fine if it is decided in two weeks,” Kopp said. “It’s many years too late. . . But we are going to come up with a solution, and we are going to act, and these five people will be taken care of.”

Lamar Johnson, Jerome Johnson, Walter Lomax, Clarence Shipley Jr. and Hubert James Williams are seeking roughly $100,000 a year for each year they were incarcerated. The five collectively spent 120 years behind bars.

Williams, who has struggled with drug abuse and homelessness, was recently hospitalized after he was assaulted while sleeping on a park bench in Silver Spring. His attorneys then asked the state to provide an emergency $35,000 to pay for treatment and stable housing.

The state instead helped facilitate Williams’s transfer from the hospital to inpatient drug treatment. His attorney said Wednesday that Williams is scheduled to be moved later this week to a long-term residential facility, where he could stay for up to three months.

An attorney for two other exonerees said he was “very pleased” to learn that the board plans to reach an agreement by the end of the month.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Neel Lalchandani, a pro bono lawyer for Shipley and Jerome Johnson.

Lalchandani said Shipley, who spent 27 years behind bars, is “eager to hear more about what the board members are proposing, putting the petition behind him and moving forward with his life. . . He’s eager to get this process finished.”

Meet the five wrongly convicted men seeking millions of dollars from Maryland

Here’s how wrongfully convicted Maryland prisoners were compensated in the past

With an exoneree hospitalized, majority of Md. panel wants plan for payments in place by Oct. 16

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