innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bill may further aid wrongly convicted

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle (Austin Bureau) on January 23, 2007:

Bill may further aid wrongly convicted

By Clay Robinson

AUSTIN — Legislation to increase state payments to men and women wrongfully imprisoned and to impose a fee on immigrants who transfer money to their home countries were among bills filed in the Senate on Monday.

SB262 by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, would double to $50,000 the amount of compensation the state pays someone for every year spent in prison because of a wrongful conviction.
It would provide a $100,000 payment for every year an innocent person spends on death row and would remove the current $500,000 cap on total payments.

"We need to do more to help these Texans rebuild their shattered lives," Ellis said. "Money obviously will not make up for the past, but Texas can help these people move forward by boosting compensation for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned."

He said the figures in his bill would match what federal law provides for inmates wrongfully convicted in federal courts.

Ellis sponsored the existing state compensation law, which provides for $25,000 for each year an innocent person spends in prison, with a payment limit of $500,000. It was enacted in 2001.
As of January 2006, 29 people had been awarded more than $3.6 million under the current law, according to Ellis' office.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, filed SB268, which would impose a 10 percent fee on wire transfers of less than $5,000 to foreign countries.

Patrick, who spent a long weekend touring the border area with other legislators, said his legislation would raise funds for border security.

But he said he was willing to consider also using the revenue to cover other costs associated with illegal immigration, such as health care for the poor and education.

At least two other bills imposing fees on foreign money transfers have been filed. One by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, would use the money for health care for the poor.


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