Cost of Wrongful Convictions Hits Almost $100 Million in Texas


As Austin criminal defense attorneys, we are well are of Texas’ unenviable track record for wrongful convictions.

When a defendant is wrongly incarcerated, he or she pays a high cost in terms of the loss of liberty. What’s less well known is the cost of wrongful convictions to the taxpayer.

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A recent report reveals it has almost reached $100 million in the last quarter of a century. Data from the state’s comptroller’s office revealed Texas has paid 101 men and women $93.6 million over the last 25 years, reported the Star-Telegram.

The high tab is set to grow as more people are exonerated and those who were wrongfully imprisoned age.

The sum is pushed up by the fact that Texas has some of the highest wrongful conviction rates in the nation. It also has one of the most generous compensation programs in the country.

The Compensation Formula for Wrongful Convictions

If you were exonerated you become eligible for two types of compensation payment, namely:

1 – A lump Sum

If your conviction is thrown out and a judge declares you to be “actually innocent” you can receive a lump sum payment that equates to $80,000 for each year you spent incarcerated.

2 – Annuity Payments

You are eligible for monthly annuity payments for the rest of your life unless you are later convicted of a felony.

The Star-Telegram reported that Texas’ present compensation program was set up under the Tim Cole Act. It was named after a Texas Tech University student who was wrongly convicted of a sexual assault in the 1980s.

The highest payout to date went to Rickey Dale Wyatt, who was incarcerated for more than three decades in Dallas County for an aggravated rape he did not commit. Wyatt received a lump sum of $2.4 million.

Those who were wrongly jailed spent a staggering 1,000 years behind bars for offenses they did not commit. More than 50 percent of the exonerees spent at least six years in jail. These figures are a staggering indictment of the criminal justice system in Texas. In 2013, the Michael Morton Act ushered in new rules of discovery in the Lone Star State. It was named after one of the most famous inmates to be exonerated.

Our experienced Austin criminal defense attorneys help defendants with jail release, whether it’s obtaining bond or fighting against a wrongful conviction.
Please contact us to find out what services we provide at (512) 399-2311. Our legal staff offer bilingual services and are ready to assist you.

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