Bill To Compensate Wrongfully Convicted Jacksonville Man Headed To Governor’s Desk

Mar 10, 2020

The Florida House unanimously approved giving a Jacksonville man $2.15 million in reparations on Tuesday, after he served 43 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Last week, the State Senate unanimously passed an identical bill that would give reparations to Clifford Williams. The legislation now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Jacksonville Rep. Kimberly Daniels (D-Jacksonville) spoke to Williams and his family while presenting the bill on the House floor.

“I know we're doing the right thing by offering this small token of compensation,” Daniels said. “And I feel safe in saying, Mr. “Boonie” Clifford Williams - Sir, your hands are clean today.” 

Williams and his nephew Nathan Myers were convicted of the 1976 murder of Jeanette Williams, but were released last year after evidence pointed to their innonence.

“The original contents of this bill gave me sleepless nights because I was not sure about the financial security for Mr. Williams and his family,” Daniels said at  a news conference with Williams and his loved ones. 

With help from the judiciary committee and several members of the House, an amendment was made in the claims bill that set up a trust fund for Williams and his family and gave him money for monthly living expenses.

“We submitted something that makes me very happy, and I’m at peace with what we’ve done here today,” Daniels said. 

Williams was unable to receive compensation upon release because of a state law called the Clean Hands Act, which disqualified people with prior convictions from receiving reparations. 

Two weeks ago, Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) sponsored a bill to eliminate that act. It passed the Senate Floor unanimously. 

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