For the Wrongfully Imprisoned, Further Compensation to "Live a Normal Life"
From left to right: James C. Giles, Thomas McGowan, James Waller and Charles Chatman -- all Dallas County DNA exonerees -- in April 2008
State Rep. Rafael Anchia filed House Bill 1736 in February; Governor Rick Perry signed the Dallas Democrat's legislation, which ups compensation for the wrongfully imprisoned, in late May; it took effect Tuesday. Which means all those exonerated by DNA evidence in recent years will receive $80,000 per year they spent in prison for crimes they did not commit, as well as lifetime annuity payments for most worth between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. They'll also receive job training, public college tuition and some medical services.
This morning, the Associated Press checks in with several of those exonerated -- including Thomas McGowan, who spent 23 years behind bars after being convicted in Dallas County of a rape and burglary he didn't commit -- to see how they'll spend their money. Says McGowen, ''You're locked up so long and then you get out with nothing. With this, you might be able to live a normal life, knowing you don't have to worry about being out on the streets.''
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