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Texas know how to treat their exonerated prisoners!

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  • Texas know how to treat their exonerated prisoners!

    Wow, I guess in Texas they know how to exonerate prisoners here's an interesting article:

    I think another benefit should be that they do not have to pay taxes; ever.

    Original Article

    DALLAS – Thomas McGowan's journey from prison to prosperity is about to culminate in $1.8 million, and he knows just how to spend it: on a house with three bedrooms, stainless steel kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer.

    "I'll let my girlfriend pick out the rest," said McGowan, who was exonerated last year based on DNA evidence after spending nearly 23 years in prison for rape and robbery.

    He and other exonerees in Texas, which leads the nation in freeing the wrongly convicted, soon will become instant millionaires under a new state law that took effect this week.

    Exonerees will get $80,000 for each year they spent behind bars. The compensation also includes lifetime annuity payments that for most of the wrongly convicted are worth between $40,000 and $50,000 a year — making it by far the nation's most generous package.

    "I'm nervous and excited," said McGowan, 50. "It's something I never had, this amount of money. I didn't have any money — period."

    His payday for his imprisonment — a time he described as "a nightmare," "hell" and "slavery" — should come by mid-November after the state's 45-day processing period.

    Exonerees also receive an array of social services, including job training, tuition credits and access to medical and dental treatment. Though 27 other states have some form of compensation law for the wrongly convicted, none comes close to offering the social services and money Texas provides.

    The annuity payments are especially popular among exonerees, who acknowledge their lack of experience in managing personal finances. A social worker who meets with the exonerees is setting them up with financial advisers and has led discussions alerting them to swindlers.

    The annuities are "a way to guarantee these guys ... payments for life as long as they follow the law," said Kevin Glasheen, a Lubbock attorney representing a dozen exonerees.

    Two who served about 26 years in prison for rape will receive lump sums of about $2 million apiece. Another, Steven Phillips, who spent about 24 years in prison for sexual assault and burglary, will get about $1.9 million.

    The biggest compensation package will likely go to James Woodard, who spent more than 27 years in prison for a 1980 murder that DNA testing later showed he did not commit. He eventually could receive nearly $2.2 million but first needs a writ from the state's Court of Criminal Appeals or a pardon from the governor.

    McGowan and the others are among 38 DNA exonerees in Texas, according to the Innocence Project, a New York legal center that specializes in overturning wrongful convictions. Dallas County alone has 21 cases in which a judge overturned guilty verdicts based on DNA evidence, though prosecutors plan to retry one of those.

    Charles Chatman, who was wrongly convicted of rape, said the money will allow him some peace of mind after more than 26 years in prison.

    "It will bring me some independence," he said. "Other people have had a lot of control over my life."

    Chatman and other exonerees already have begun rebuilding their lives. Several plan to start businesses, saying they don't mind working but want to be their own bosses. Others, such as McGowan, don't intend to work and hope to make their money last a lifetime.

    Some exonerees have gotten married and another is about to. Phillips is taking college courses. Chatman became a first-time father at 49.

    "That's something I never thought I'd be able to do," he said. "No amount of money can replace the time we've lost."

    The drumbeat of DNA exonerations caused lawmakers this year to increase the compensation for the wrongly convicted, which had been $50,000 for each year of prison. Glasheen, the attorney, advised his clients to drop their federal civil rights lawsuits and then led the lobbying efforts for the bill.

    Besides the lump sum and the monthly annuity payments, the bill includes 120 hours of paid tuition at a public college. It also gives exonerees an additional $25,000 for each year they spent on parole or as registered sex offenders.

    No other state has such a provision, according to the Innocence Project.

    Exonerees who collected lump sum payments under the old compensation law are ineligible for the new lump sums but will receive the annuities. Whether the money will be subject to taxes remains unsettled, Glasheen said.

    The monthly payments are expected to be a lifeline for exonerees such as Wiley Fountain, 53, who received nearly $390,000 in compensation — minus federal taxes — but squandered it by, as he said, "living large." He ended up homeless, spending his nights in a tattered sleeping bag behind a liquor store.

    But after getting help from fellow exonerees and social workers, Fountain now lives in an apartment and soon will have a steady income.

    Fountain's story is a cautionary tale for the other exonerees, who meet monthly and lately have been discussing the baggage that comes with the money.

    Chatman said he's been approached by "family, friends and strangers, too."

    "It takes two or three seconds before they ask me how much money, or when do I get the money," he said. "Everyone has the perfect business venture for you."

    Though appropriately wary, the exonerees say they are excited about having money in the bank.

    "You're locked up so long and then you get out with nothing," McGowan said. "With this, you might be able to live a normal life, knowing you don't have to worry about being out on the streets."

  • #2
    Give the man some money. I can wrap my head around duty free as well.

    Comment


    • #3
      I really like this program. They should be compensated, although nothing can make up for what they lost in time/relationships/respect/etc. it at least seems like we are trying to take care of them

      Comment


      • #4
        Ya I got no beef with that, though me personally I'd rather have the 26 years back..
        "I would rather live one day as a Lion, than a thousand years as a Sheep."

        Comment


        • #5
          Sounds like a great program.


          Exonerees who collected lump sum payments under the old compensation law are ineligible for the new lump sums but will receive the annuities. Whether the money will be subject to taxes remains unsettled, Glasheen said.
          I wonder if the economy wasn't in the crapper that it is if they would just cancel out the taxes, but since it is, they feel the need to get some of it back...

          Comment


          • #6
            Alright who wants to frame me? I will split it with you.

            Seriously the guy would probably trade it all back for those 26 years he lost.

            Comment


            • #7
              So this is why I'm not getting my raise this year!

              Comment


              • #8
                Just to play devil's advocate, why is state money used to pay the wrongly convicted? The state usually didn't convict them, a jury did.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bucksone View Post
                  Just to play devil's advocate, why is state money used to pay the wrongly convicted? The state usually didn't convict them, a jury did.
                  The State brings the case, files the charges and investigates. I see what you are saying, but this cat spent the better years of his life in the pokey for a crime he didn't commit, someone has to pay. I'd rather someone like him get my tax dollars than some POS who is to lazy to work and is drawing a welfare check, all the while still probably out commiting crimes.
                  "I would rather live one day as a Lion, than a thousand years as a Sheep."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think the victim/jury are responsible for paying more so then the state. Oh well.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DeputySC View Post
                      I think the victim/jury are responsible for paying more so then the state. Oh well.
                      That makes no sense at all.

                      The case is presented by the State. Without the "evidence" provided by the state, without its determined action to put the case before judge and jury, none of it would have happened.

                      The victim has zero control over what the DA does.The DA decides whether there is sufficient evidence for the trial, not the victim. The victim may have no idea who committed the crime. And even if he/she specifically accused an individual, the DA decides whether the victim's accusation is plausible.

                      The jury responds to the evidence presented. The jury wouldn't even exist as an entity but for the actions of the state.

                      A jury presented with faulty evidence is not responsible for the faulty evidence upon which it makes its decision.
                      Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.
                      Happiness never decreases by being shared. -- Buddhist quotation
                      A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. -- Proverbs 15:1

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        And then there is this case:

                        http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...,5812073.story



                        Cameron Todd Willingham case: Expert says fire for which father was executed was not arson
                        Texas panel reviewing execution of father for setting deadly blaze


                        Cameron Todd Willingham holds Amber, one of his three children who died in the 1991 Texas house fire he was convicted of setting. (Family photo)

                        By Steve Mills
                        Tribune Newspapers
                        August 25, 2009


                        In a withering critique, a nationally known fire scientist has told a state commission on forensics that Texas fire investigators had no basis to rule a deadly house fire was an arson -- a finding that led to the murder conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.

                        The finding comes in the first state-sanctioned review of an execution in Texas, home to the country's busiest death chamber. If the commission reaches the same conclusion, it could lead to the first-ever declaration by an official state body that an inmate was wrongly executed.
                        Not only did the man not set the fire. NOBODY did. Mistaken identity is one thing. Determining that there was a crime when none even occurred...and then executing someone for it...

                        priceless.
                        Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.
                        Happiness never decreases by being shared. -- Buddhist quotation
                        A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. -- Proverbs 15:1

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm fine with wrongfully imprisoned being compensated.. i think it should be based on there prvious careers and reasonable wages they would have made though. Also should they find themselves on the wrong side of the law again i think payments should stop with no chance of restarting. Should be taxed also like any other wages.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ya, and once they die, the payments stop..

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OverCharged View Post
                              I'm fine with wrongfully imprisoned being compensated.. i think it should be based on there prvious careers and reasonable wages they would have made though. Also should they find themselves on the wrong side of the law again i think payments should stop with no chance of restarting. Should be taxed also like any other wages.
                              Again?

                              If they were exonerated, it would be the prosecution who was on the "wrong side of the law."
                              Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.
                              Happiness never decreases by being shared. -- Buddhist quotation
                              A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. -- Proverbs 15:1

                              Comment

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