Friday, September 04, 2009

Texas DNA exonerees find prosperity after prison

With so much bad news out there, its good to read a heartwarming story every once in a while. One such story is that of exonerated Texas prisoners being compensated by the state for being wrongly convicted and imprisoned. Of course, money can never make up for the time lost; life is short enough as it is. But it's good to see the State of Texas doing the right thing to help these men get back on their feet and get their lives back together.


DALLAS – Thomas McGowan's journey from prison to prosperity is about to culminate in $1.8 million, and he knows just how to spend it: on a house with three bedrooms, stainless steel kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer.

"I'll let my girlfriend pick out the rest," said McGowan, who was exonerated last year based on DNA evidence after spending nearly 23 years in prison for rape and robbery.

He and other exonerees in Texas, which leads the nation in freeing the wrongly convicted, soon will become instant millionaires under a new state law that took effect this week.

Exonerees will get $80,000 for each year they spent behind bars. The compensation also includes lifetime annuity payments that for most of the wrongly convicted are worth between $40,000 and $50,000 a year — making it by far the nation's most generous package.

"I'm nervous and excited," said McGowan, 50. "It's something I never had, this amount of money. I didn't have any money — period."

Full story here.

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