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Senate Bill To Compensate Wrongfully Convicted Jax Man Unanimously Passes

Myers and Williams sitting at a table, smiling.
Abukar Adan
Nathan Myers (left) and Clifford Williams (right) after their exoneration.

A Jacksonville man who spent 43 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit is closer to receiving over $2 million dollars in compensation after his claim bill passed the Florida Senate floor Tuesday morning. 

Clifford Williams and his nephew Nathan Myers were exonerated last year after serving the most time of any exonerees in Florida history. They were convicted of the murder of Jeannette Williams in 1976, but significant evidence pointed to their innocence. 

Williams had to file a wrongful incarceration claim through the State Senate and House of Representatives because of compensation limitations from prior convictions he had due to a law called the Clean Hands Act.

A bill proposed by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) to eliminate that act passed the Senate Floor last week. 

On the state Senate floor Tuesday, Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) approved an amendment to the claim that will give Williams a trust fund and pay for monthly living expenses.

“We cannot give him back his time, but we can certainly help him to move forward,” Gibson said. “He deserves that opportunity. He really does.”

The Senate voted unanimously to pass Williams’ compensation claim, with both Clifford and his wife in attendance.

“I decided that I would file the claims bill because I didn't have to, but I wanted to, because it was the right thing to do,” Gibson said. “When we make a mistake as a state, we have a duty to fix it.”

According to WJCT News partner The Florida Time-Union, in February the Office of the Attorney General initially vetoed Nathan Myers’ judge-granted petition for reparations, claiming there was no evidence of Myers’ innocence.

Just a few hours later, the Office of the Attorney General reversed its decision, saying it was wrong to deny the compensation and had no right to veto a court order.

An identical bill sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville) is headed to the House floor. If the bill is passed, it will head to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk for final approval.  

Sky Lebron can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at@SkylerLebron.

Former WJCT News reporter