AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Updated: 11:24 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011
Published: 10:04 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011
Reversing an earlier decision, state officials will pay an additional $753,000 to a Dallas County man who served 20 years in prison for a rape he did not commit, but the change of heart will not affect 47 other exonerated inmates who received state compensation under less-generous payment plans of years past.
Two years later, the Legislature boosted compensation to $80,000 per year and created a matching annuity that offered monthly payments based on 5 percent annual interest.
The annuity was provided to all previously paid exonerees. But no increase in lump-sum payments was offered to the 31 former inmates who were paid $25,000 per year in prison, nor to the 16 paid $50,000 per year.
Ellis said he will approach legislative colleagues to float a new idea to treat lower-paid exonerees equally by making the agency that made the mistake pay the difference in compensation. That would lift the burden from state taxpayers and would be particularly fair in guilty verdicts that resulted from misconduct by prosecutors or law enforcement, Ellis said.