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Paying The Price

The New York Times reports on a rural Nebraska county facing momentous financial challenges as it tries to come up with the $28 million it owes half a dozen individuals whose murder convictions were overturned based on DNA evidence.

The so-called "Beatrice Six," named for a small town at the heart of the case, were exonerated by DNA evidence, but not before spending 77 years in jail between them. They were awarded $28 million in a judgement against Gage County that deemed the six were convicted based on false confessions, reporter Jack Healy explains.

In the years since the original convictions, the Gage County's population and financial reserves have waned. Now, just 22,000 or so residents are left to foot the bill.

"The Beatrice case is an extreme example of the difficulties faced by those who have been promised compensation for being wrongfully convicted and spending years behind bars," Healy writes.

"Some in Gage County say the community has a moral obligation to compensate the Beatrice Six," he adds. "Other residents say they should not be held financially responsible for an investigation and prosecution that unfolded more than three decades ago."