In a recent case, the state of Texas wrongfully convicted an innocent man for killing an officer during a robbery of a check-cashing store. He spent 12 years in prison and was on death row before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a habeas corpus relief. Upon further investigation, Alfred Dewayne Brown was able provide evidence to support his innocence. This evidence included the following:
- Witnesses recanting their testimony. One of the primary witnesses for the prosecution stated she lied because the prosecutor had threatened her.
- Telephone logs. Mr. Brown and his team also found telephone records that supported his alibi.
- Errors by the district attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office failed to turn over evidence that state law legally requires it to share.
As a result, Mr. Brown was able to secure his release. He then began a fight for the state to provide compensation.
What type of compensation is available from the state for the wrongfully convicted?
At issue, was the Tim Cole Act. This law provides guidance on when exonerees can receive compensation from the state. It increased the amount that the state provided the exoneree to $80,000 for every year served as well as expanding the services that were available to help exonerees upon release.
In order to qualify for these funds, the exoneree must follow specific filing specifications. In this case, the comptroller argued that the exoneree failed to follow these required steps and, as such, was not entitled to the funds. Mr. Brown is currently appealing, arguing against the Texas Office of the Comptroller in the state Supreme Court.
Although no amount of money can equate to the freedom that is stolen from the wrongfully convicted, the funds available through the Time Cole Act provide some reparation.