Virginia Exoneree Could Receive $800,000 in Compensation


Virginia’s compensation law provides that a wrongfully convicted person can receive up to $40,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment with a cap of 20 years. That means that exonerees like Thomas Haynesworth who served more than 20 years for crimes they did not commit, would not be compensated for the full term spent behind bars.


Three months after a Virginia Court of Appeals declared Haynesworth innocent of a series of sexual assaults for which he was wrongly convicted, the General Assembly has agreed to compensate him nearly $800,000 for the 27 years he spent behind bars.


A similar measure has passed the Senate and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will review the bill, according to The Washington Post.


DNA testing and other evidence proved Haynesworth’s innocence and he was released on parole March 21, 2011. Through a Writ of Actual Innocence based on a combination of DNA and non-DNA evidence, the Virginia Court of Appeals exonerated him on December 6, 2011.


The DNA testing that proves Haynesworth’s innocence also implicates the actual perpetrator, a serial rapist who was convicted of several similar crimes in the area.


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