Under current state law, individuals who are wrongfully convicted of crimes and imprisoned are eligible to receive the sum of $80,000 from the state for every year for which they were incarcerated. If they do not commit a felony offense in the future, they also are eligible for monthly annuity payments for up to $80,000 per year for the rest of their lives.
The amount of money that the state of Texas pays out to wrongfully convicted individuals can vary widely, even for individuals who spent the same amount of time wrongfully incarcerated. The laws regarding compensation from the state have changed over the years and the amount of payment that individuals receive also depends on when they were released from incarceration, and when they applied for compensation.
To be eligible for this compensation, however, individuals must receive a declaration from the prosecutor’s office or the court that they are innocent. This requirement can be difficult in some cases in which exonerating evidence is not quite as precise as prosecutors would prefer.
Fortunately, Texas has led the nation in the number of people that it exonerates. According to a Texas Tribune article, Texas courts have exonerated more than 200 people since 2010, which is more than twice as many exonerations as any other state during that same time. Over the years, Texas has passed several pieces of legislation to assist in exonerating wrongfully convicted people. For example, Dallas County formed the first conviction integrity unit to examine claims of innocence in closed cases. Laws now more strictly regulate the use of jailhouse informants by prosecutors, which has been a common source of wrongful convictions.
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