Rep. Kawasaki Praises Release of Fairbanks Four, But Says More Work Yet to be Done
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2015
FAIRBANKS – The incarcerated members of the Fairbanks Four were released today following acceptance of a plea agreement by a Fairbanks judge. Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) has been following developments in the Fairbanks Four case and is pleased they will be able to join their families for the holidays.
“I am glad to see the Fairbanks Four finally released after 18 years of proclaiming their innocence,” said Rep. Scott Kawasaki. “The wounds of this case will eventually heal, but it will take time. It is unfortunate to see that the Fairbanks Four had to settle for a deal like this rather than see justice done, but I empathize with the desire to be free and with family.”
Marvin Roberts, Kevin Pease, George Frese, and Eugene Vent have consistently proclaimed their innocence in the 1997 death of John Hartman in Fairbanks. The case was recently the subject of a lengthy evidentiary hearing. In today’s plea agreement, the Fairbanks Four maintained their claim of innocence and promised not to sue the State of Alaska for compensation. In return, the state vacated the convictions of the Fairbanks Four but retained the right to re-try them if new, substantial evidence came forward.
“It just seems unfair that they will have given up their rights for some sort or recognition or compensation when, in fact, they were wrongfully imprisoned,” said Rep. Kawasaki.
Rep. Kawasaki is the sponsor of legislation to create a wrongful conviction compensation program for the State of Alaska. The program is modeled on similar programs in 30 states. Rep. Kawasaki’s legislation would allow victims of overturned criminal convictions to request up to $2 million in compensation from the state for time served. That’s about the average amount paid in lawsuit settlements in states with no wrongful conviction compensation legislation.
“While there is no price on the personal and emotional suffering of those wrongly imprisoned, this bill would bring Alaska up to the federal compensation standard to help right the state’s wrong,” said Rep. Kawasaki.
For more information contact Rep. Kawasaki’s office at (907) 456-7423.