Sen. Ram Villivalam

SPRINGFIELD – To provide additional access to the Grant Program for Exonerated Persons, State Senator Ram Villivalam advanced legislation through the Senate Higher Education Committee that would allow unused program benefits to be passed on to a child or spouse.

“Providing assistance to those who have been impacted through wrongful convictions is important,” said Villivalam (D-Chicago). “More than just the exonerated feel the effects of a wrongful conviction, and by expanding the access to these grants, it can help set everyone on a better path.”

This measure would expand options for unused parts of the grant that have been awarded to exonerated individuals. The grant provides funding to cover the cost of obtaining high school, undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Currently, recipients may be provided the grant for up to the equivalent of four regular school years. This measure would provide access for dependents of the exonerated to the unused program benefits.

“It is imperative that we continue providing equitable, affordable and accessible education for all,” said Villivalam. “This measure would ensure that those who have been impacted by wrongful convictions could benefit from this program.”

Senate Bill 3771 passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday, and is now headed to the floor for further deliberation.