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Senate moves on compensation in Jacksonville man’s wrongful incarceration

Clifford Williams Jr. and his nephew, Nathan Myers, in a Duval County courtroom the day their convictions were overturned.
Clifford Williams Jr. and his nephew, Nathan Myers, in a Duval County courtroom the day their convictions were overturned. (WJXT)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate next week is slated to take up a proposal that would provide $2.15 million to a man who spent 43 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in a murder and attempted murder in 1976 in Jacksonville.

The Senate has included the measure (SB 28) on a list of bills to consider during a Wednesday floor session. The proposal, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, would provide $50,000 for each year that Clifford Williams spent in prison.

A House version of the bill (HB 6507), sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, has sailed through two committees and awaits a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

READ: House, Senate panels back compensation for wrongfully convicted Jacksonville man

Williams’ exoneration came after a review of his case by the Conviction Integrity Review Division established by State Attorney Melissa Nelson in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Clay, Duval and Nassau counties. The review revealed that “multiple credible alibi witnesses” were not called to testify during his 1976 trial, House Special Master Jordan Jones wrote in a report on the bill.

“I find that claimant has successfully demonstrated, by clear and convincing evidence, that he is actually innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted in 1976,” Jones wrote in the eight-page report.

A wrongfully convicted individual found innocent is entitled to compensation. Florida law requires them to receive $50,000 annually up to a maximum of $2 million, as long as they don’t have any prior felony convictions.