Senate Passes Ellis Legislation to Boost Compensation of Wrongfully Convicted
AUSTIN -- On the heels of the recent exonerations of James Giles, James Waller and Larry Fuller in Dallas, the Texas Senate today passed SB 262, legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) to boost compensation of the wrongfully convicted.
Currently, the Texas law allows for compensation for wrongful imprisonment of $25,000/year with a cap of $500,000/ total. Senate Bill 262 brings the amount of compensation up to par with the Federal Justice for All Act of 2004 for innocent Texans who have been wrongfully convicted. The victims of wrongful incarceration would be eligible for $50,000/year of incarceration and $100,000/year served on death row, with no cap.
According to the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal clinic and criminal justice legal resource center in New York, 198 people nationwide have been cleared through DNA testing after they were convicted. In Texas 29 men have been exonerated by DNA testing. Thirteen of those cases have come out of Dallas County in the past five years.
"Today is a red-letter day for justice in Texas," said Ellis. "We have taken a significant step forward to help wrongfully convicted Texans rebuild their shattered lives," said Ellis. "Money will obviously not make up for the past, but Texas can help these people move forward by boosting compensation for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned to the federal standard."