News 05.23.11

The Long Road to Compensation

About half of people exonerated after proving their innocence have not been compensated for the injustice they suffered and the time they spent incarcerated. Former Texas death-row inmate Clarence Brandley is among those still waiting.

Your Houston News reports that the Texas Comptroller’s Office denied Brandley’s request for $800,000 to compensate him for the 10 years he spent on death row, finding that his claim “does not meet the requirements set in state law.”

Three decades ago, Brandley, a former high school janitor, was convicted of rape and strangulation of a 16-year-old student. Although his first trial resulted in a hung jury, the verdict in a second trial sentenced him to death.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the verdict because Brandley was found to have been the victim of racial prejudice, witness intimidation and perjured testimony, reported Your Houston News.

“We have to follow what’s set in law,” said R.J. DaSilva, a spokesman for Comptroller Susan Combs.

The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code requires that, in order to be compensated, a former inmate must have received a pardon of innocence by the governor or have been granted relief by the court “on the basis of actual innocence,” the letter states.

“The court order that was submitted with Mr. Brandley’s claim did not meet the actual innocence requirement” of the statute.

DaSilva also said that Brandley waited too long to apply for compensation, only filing within the past few months. 

He was released at the end of 1989 and the law requires a person seeking compensation to file an application no later than the third anniversary of their prison release.

Since 2001, when the fund that compensates wrongfully imprisoned people in Texas was founded, the state has paid out $37.4 million to 70 people through the fund.


Read the full article

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Innocence Project Report:

Making Up for Lost Time

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National View:

27 States Have Compensation Statutes: Is Yours One?

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compensating the wrongfully convicted

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