SESSION LAW 2008-173




AN ACT TO INCREASE THE COMPENSATION PROVIDED TO PERSONS ERRONEOUSLY CONVICTED OF FELONIES WHO HAVE RECEIVED PARDONS OF INNOCENCE; to require the Industrial commission to annually adjust the compensation to reflect increases in the consumer price index for all urban consumers; and to allow the industrial commission to award additional compensation of job skills training and expenses for tuition and fees at a north carolina community college or constituent institution.


The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:


SECTION 1.  G.S. 148-84 reads as rewritten:

" 148-84.  Evidence; action by Industrial Commission; payment and amount of compensation.

(a)       At the hearing the claimant may introduce evidence in the form of affidavits or testimony to support the claim, and the Attorney General may introduce counter affidavits or testimony in refutation. If the Industrial Commission finds from the evidence that the claimant received a pardon of innocence for the reason that the crime was not committed at all, or was not committed by the claimant, and that the claimant was imprisoned and has been vindicated in connection with the alleged offense for which he or she was imprisoned, the Industrial Commission shall award to the claimant an amount equal to twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for each year or the pro rata amount for the portion of each year of the imprisonment actually served, including any time spent awaiting trial, but in trial. However, (i) in no event shall the compensation compensation, including the compensation provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, exceed a total amount of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000). seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000), and (ii) a claimant is not entitled to compensation for any portion of a prison sentence during which the claimant was also serving a concurrent sentence for conviction of a crime other than the one for which the pardon of innocence was granted.

The Director of the Budget shall pay the amount of the award to the claimant out of the Contingency and Emergency Fund, or out of any other available State funds. The Industrial Commission shall give written notice of its decision to all parties concerned. The determination of the Industrial Commission shall be subject to judicial review upon appeal of the claimant or the State according to the provisions and procedures set forth in Article 31 of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes."

SECTION 2.  G.S. 148-84 is amended by adding new subsections to read:

"(c)      In addition to the compensation provided under subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the Industrial Commission shall determine the extent to which incarceration has deprived a claimant of educational or training opportunities and, based upon those findings, may award the following compensation for loss of life opportunities:

(1)       Job skills training for at least one year through an appropriate State program; and

(2)       Expenses for tuition and fees at any public North Carolina community college or constituent institution of The University of North Carolina for any degree or program of the claimant's choice that is available from one or more of the applicable institutions. Claimants are also entitled to assistance in meeting any admission standards or criteria required at any of those institutions, including assistance in satisfying requirements for a certificate of equivalency of completion of secondary education. A claimant may apply for aid under this subdivision within 10 years of the claimant's release from incarceration, and aid shall continue for up to a total of five years when initiated within the 10-year period, provided the claimant makes satisfactory progress in the courses or degree program in which the claimant is enrolled."

SECTION 3.  This act is effective when it becomes law and applies to any person granted a pardon of innocence by the Governor on or after January 1, 2004.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 18th day of July, 2008.



                                                                    s/ Marc Basnight

                                                                         President Pro Tempore of the Senate



                                                                    s/ Joe Hackney

                                                                         Speaker of the House of Representatives



                                                                    s/ Michael F. Easley




Approved 2:53 p.m. this 4th day of August, 2008