Anchia Bill Increases Lump-Sum Compensation to 80K For Each Year Of Imprisonment
Health Insurance, State University Tuition Added
Posthumous Pardon to be Possible
(Austin)--State Representative Rafael Anchia (Dallas) has filed House Bill 1736, also known as The Tim Cole Act, which would increase the lump sum compensation paid to victims of wrongful imprisonment from $50,000 to $80,000 for each year of imprisonment. In addition to the lump sum payment, the bills would also require the State of Texas to make monthly payments to the exonerated individual for life. The Tim Cole Act would also would allow for the granting of a posthumous pardon and expunction of records for an exonerated person who has deceased.
The bill is named for Timothy Cole, who died in prison in 1999. Cole was serving a 25 year sentence after being wrongfully convicted for the rape of a Texas Tech student in 1985. The guilty man, convict Jerry Wayne Johnson, had tried to confess to the crime as early as 1995, but under state law he could no longer be charged with the crime. Subsequently, DNA testing ordered by the Lubbock County District Attorney's office proved that Tim Cole could not have been the perpetrator. But Tim Cole died in prison before the system could free him.
When Tim Cole's family tried to clear his name, posthumously, they were told that current law would not allow it. The Tim Cole Act changes that.
Referring to the Tim Cole Act, Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas said, "There is no more pressing problem in the Texas justice system than the problem of the wrongfully convicted," adding, "Making amends to these victims of our system, and to their families, is a huge step in that direction".
Additional benefits of the Act include provision of health insurance under the state Group Benefits Plan and upon request, up to 120 hours of tuition at a career center, community college or state university.
"We've unjustly taken away precious years of these people's lives--how do you put a number on that?" Anchia asked, adding, "The Tim Cole Act is simply a recognition that what the state is currently providing them is not enough--we clearly need to do more."
If a claimant receives a subsequent felony conviction, they lose their eligibility for compensation, and any annuity would cease.
The Tim Cole Act also requires that if a person accepts the statutory compensation, they give up their right to file any lawsuit over their wrongful conviction and incarceration. By averting potential lawsuits, this provision could save local governments millions of dollars.
For example. the City of Austin paid more than $14 million to settle the Danziger/Ochoa cases.
In other states, recoveries in wrongful incarceration cases range between 5 million and 11 million dollars.
Contact: Tim Dickey (512) 463-0746
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