A person that is convicted and then deemed innocent is eligible for a lump sum payment of $80,000 for each year they spent in prison. They are also eligible for monthly annuity payments for the rest of their lives, unless they are later convicted of a felony, the Texas Tribune reported.
Texas’ compensation program is one of the most generous in the US, where some states have no such laws or cap the total amount an exoneree can be paid, according to the Innocence Project.
This program is based on the Tim Cole Act, which was legislation introduced in 2009, named after a former Texas Tech University student who was wrongfully convicted of aggravated assault back in 1985.
Texas had paid exonerees US $69.1 million in lump sums and $24.5 million in monthly annuity payments since 1991 as of May 31. Rickey Dale Wyatt, who spent more than 30 years in prison for an aggravated rape he did not commit, has received the highest paid lump sum of US $2.4 million.
Together, these former inmates spent 1,000 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, with more than half of them serving sentences of six years or longer in prison.