A Connecticut court will hear a first-of-its-kind case today when an innocent man seeks compensation for being wrongly imprisoned.
Kenneth Ireland was locked up for 21 years, serving time for murder and rape. DNA tests later proved he was innocent, and Ireland was released from prison in 2009. He had been incarcerated from the time he was 18 until 40.
Ireland is now seeking between $5.5-8 million in compensation from the state. If successful, he will be the first person to collect under Connecticut’s wrongful incarceration compensation law, which was introduced in 2008. James Tillman was compensated by the state for a wrongful conviction in 2007 which lead to the passage of the law. Tillman served 18 years for a rape he did not commit and received $5 million after the legislature approved it and Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the act.
The outcome of this case may become a benchmark for more than a dozen wrongful incarceration claims before the state.
Since being released from prison, Ireland has twice spoken to FOX Connecticut, recounting his time behind bars that included a year in solitary confinement and missing his own father’s funeral.
State Attorney General George Jepsen says Ireland is entitled to compensation and is in agreement with the settlement figure on the table.
After Ireland gives his testimony at the Legislative Office Building, a compensation recommendation will be passed along to the claims commissioner. The commissioner may authorize a payment up to $20,000. Higher amounts are approved by the legislature.