South Carolina lawmaker proposes providing families of those wrongly executed with $10M

Southeast Region

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — In 1944, 14-year-old George Stinney was executed in South Carolina after an all-white jury spent 10 minutes deliberating the case. Seven decades later, Stinney, who was Black, was exonerated after a court ruled he didn’t receive a fair trial for the deaths of two young white girls.

South Carolina is one of 13 states that does not offer compensation to the families of those who were wrongfully executed, but state House Rep. Cezar McKnight, D-Williamsburg, is trying to change that.

McKnight is pushing a bill that would allow family members of the wrongfully executed to receive $10 million. 

The bill would create the George Stinney Fund, named after 14-year-old Stinney.

“We had a judicial portrait unveiling for one of our local judges, and in that same courtroom was a picture of Judge Stolle, the judge who presided over Mr. Stinney’s execution, and I was floored by the fact that we were honoring someone who was a part of a state sanctioned murder,” McKnight said. 

The fund will allow family members in the state of South Carolina to receive the $10 million no matter when the person was wrongfully executed, as long as a court exonerated them.

As of right now, Stinney is the only victim in the state that has been proven to be wrongfully executed, and Rep. McKnight is trying to change the ending of a 70-year-old story. 

“If you gave them the choice, they would want to have George back,” McKnight said. “The only way to do justice in this matter is to be able to resurrect Mr. Stinney and allow him to live a life. Unfortunately, we don’t have that power, but what we can do, and what we all should try to do, is atone for our wrongs.”

McKnight said that there are other state lawmakers who want to make amends for some of the mistakes that were made in the past, and because of that, he believes that there is a possibility for the bill to pass with a few changes. 

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