News 05.14.09

Texas Compensation Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

The Texas House passed an amended bill today to improve the state law compensating the wrongfully convicted after their release. The new bill, which would become law with a signature from Gov. Rick Perry, pays exonerees $80,000 per year they spent in prison for crimes they didn’t commit and includes credit for tuition at state colleges and universities. The bill would also pay $25,000 per year an exoneree spent outside of prison on parole for a crime they didn't commit – a first in the nation. An earlier version of the bill also included health care, but that was removed in a Senate amendment.

The bill would represent a significant increase in compensation paid to the exonerated, from the current law, which provides $50,000 per year. Texas is one of 27 states with exoneree compensation laws,

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The legislation is named for Timothy Cole, who was posthumously exonerated this year after DNA proved that he had been wrongfully convicted in 1986. He died of a heart attack in prison in 1999 and DNA testing finally proved his innocence in 2008.

"It is a landmark bill," (Innocence Project Co-Director Barry) Scheck said. "For a fixed damage award, it's the highest in the country."


Read more about today’s developments

. (Associated Press 5/14/09)

CBS Evening News reported on Cole’s case and the Timothy Cole Compensation Act on Saturday:

In 1985, a serial rapist attacked five women near Texas Tech University. Among his victims was then 20-year old sophomore Michelle Mallin.

"It's constantly in my mind all the time," Mallin said recently.

Cole, a 25-year-old college student was convicted, largely because Mallin identified his picture in a photo lineup.

"I honestly thought it looked like him," she said.


Read the full story and watch the video here

. (CBS Evening News, 5/9/09)

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