News 05.20.09

Texas Compensation Could be Retroactive

As we’ve written

here

, a bill awaiting the signature of Texas Gov. Rick Perry would increase the amount of state compensation paid to the exonerated upon their release and would also pay exonerees for time they served on parole. But the bill would also assist a group that has been eligible for no compensation under state law – those exonerated before the state passed its first compensation law in 2001.

When Joyce Ann Brown and Lenell Geter were cleared in Texas (by evidence other than DNA) in the 1980s, they were not eligible for state compensation. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, who sponsored the bill and serves as the Innocence Project Board Chairman, has said parts of the bill are retroactive and that he will reach out to people who are potentially eligible.

Brown served more than nine years of a life sentence for a 1980 robbery and murder at a fur shop. She was released in late 1989.

Geter served 16 months of a life sentence for a 1982 wrongful conviction for the armed robbery of fast-food businesses. He was cleared in 1984.

"When I was released, you had to fight [to be compensated]. … I have never received a dime," said Brown, who founded and directs Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems (MASS), a nonprofit that helps former prisoners re-enter society. She co-wrote the book Joyce Ann Brown: Justice Denied.

Geter sued former Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, other authorities and municipalities including Greenville, where he was arrested. He received what he described as a small out-of-court settlement representing "about a year's salary" – close to the $24,000 he earned as a 26-year-old engineer in Greenville when arrested in 1982.

His and Brown's eligibility under the new bill, though uncertain, would be a salve on old wounds, said Geter, who now is a motivational speaker, youth mentor and the father of three daughters in Columbia, S.C. He wrote the book Overcome, Succeed & Prosper.


Read the full story here

. (Dallas Morning News, 5/20/09)

Also pending in Texas is a bill to create a state innocence commission to review wrongful convictions and evaluate reforms to address the causes of injustice. A bill creating the commission has passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Read more here

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  1. kevin lynn says:

    Hello, i met Ms. Joyce Ann Brown in dallas before she died and never had the courage to come forward to try to get relief from the wrongful treatment and prosecutions that happened to me in dallas county courts. She spoke to me about my situation and encouraged me to contact her or this office to get some things done to go after the county. I was framed for murder with false witnesses and false testimonies in 95. I always felt like i should have sued them but the attorney i had discouraged me from that due to him about to become a judge in dallas. After that trial they also framed me for several more crimes that were all thrown out after torturing me with jail sentences and extremely high bond amounts. Anyway, there’s alot going on there and i’m sure if this is the office that Ms. Brown was a part of i hope that you will reach out to me to speak more in depth with me. I feel like they ruined my life. I was only 19 when they framed me for murder. My name is kevin lynn.
    my email is 7kevinlynn@gmail.com. Please let me know if this is the right office for this issue.
    Thanks you for your time
    Sincerely,
    Kevin

Thanks for your comment

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