Skip to comments.Wrongly convicted Texans become instant millionaires
Posted on 09/06/2009 6:33:51 AM PDT by deport
Wrongly convicted Texans become instant millionaires
New law makes Texas most generous state for payments to cleared prisoners.
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 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.
McGowan and the others are among 38 DNA exonerees in Texas, according to the Innocence Project, a New York legal center that specializes in overturning wrongful convictions. Dallas County alone has 21 cases in which a judge overturned guilty verdicts based on DNA evidence, though prosecutors plan to retry one of those.
“That just means the states and DAs/prosecution needs to be ever mindful of suddenly appearing proof of innocence.”
It is the same DAs/prosecution that is wrongfully convicting people. The problem begins there to start with.
Well you can’t have it both ways. Either you release people who are innocent with or without compensation or keep them incarcerated. It can’t be both. I’m for releasing innocent people with compensation as opposed to the other alternatives.
Do you thing in CA and Texas will proceed with theirs.
I think I remember reading about one of the people doing the DNA testing in Dallas. Some woman Director if I recall. She'd been tied to a lot of sloppy laboratory work, but I never heard what happened. Maybe this is part of it.
I am glad to see an equitable compensation for those wrongly imprisoned, though.
“Texas is a Third-World hellhole.”
And this from a Nanook of the North, People’s Republic of Minnesota FReeper?
Not enough, but well deserved, IMO.
I voted for Coleman, Paulsen, and Palin/Whatshisname.
I'm just outnumbered by libs.
Besides, my wife and I *prefer* the cold weather.
Agree, this amount is a joke...A million a year for doing time in the joint would still not be enough.
...and I supposed Keith Ellison (as a Marxist) might fit in there somewhere as well...
The article title is wrong too. 23 years in a Texas prison for something he didn't do is not becoming an "instant" millionaire. About the only thing wrong with this is I don't see any provision for spreading some pain on the officials who performed the wrongful conviction.
Besides, Texas is a great place and anyone with enough brains to accomplish something like that could easily do better with a real job and not have to spend any time in prison.
That's the only issue I have with this.
We want the guilty to be punished to the extent of the law. Punishing an innocent person accomplishes exactly nothing and is pretty much modern slavery.
In your hypothetical example, the prosecutors, judge & jury would be culpable.
No, I'm not specifically talking about you altair.
I think wrongful convictions are a terrible thing. I think people are due major restitution for being falsely imprisoned. But I think it should be handled on a case by case basis.
And for you jdub, the $80k is for each year served, not an annual payment. It is the “lump sum” payment. They also get an annuity which is paid out in installments over time which is in addition to the the lump sum.
My point which some don't be able to grasp is that there are people who will in the future game the system.
Get yourself convicted of a crime, spend 5 years in jail and then magically evidence surfaces that exonerates you and wa-la - $400,000. There are any number of ways people can create that situation, all on purpose.
So for some ex-con who can barely make minimum wage and knows the prison system inside out it makes perfect sense to fabricate a crime so that you get yourself convicted while hiding the hard evidence that clears you. Serve 5 years on the states dime and then the evidence is “discovered” that clears you. Bam, $400,000 and a longterm annuity...
It is the whole unintended consequences things that government is so good at.
Prosecutors need to be held accountable. They shouldn't get to destroy someones life and then simply say sorry.
If when reviewing how the false conviction happened it can be shown the prosecutor hid evidence that pointed towards innocence or manufactured evidence to get the conviction through bogus witnesses deals, etc the prosecutor should be put on trial for no less than the false convictions they doled out to others.
If a juror broke the law and it resulted in a false conviction they should be charged.
If everything was done properly and when reviewing the evidence you would come to the same conclusion excluding the new evidence and the new evidence wasn’t a failure on the prosecutor's part in finding then there is no one to blame other than the criminal that did the original crime. And I'm not suggesting the falsely imprisoned aren't due restitution even under these circumstances.
I’ll add that if the new evidence proves a witness lied on the stand they should be doing jail time. And for no less than what they tried to do to someone else.
Please understand that my post #61 was to your post #59 and not #60.
“Minnesota isn’t third World,”
That would be a bit hard to prove in a State where they elected Ellison AND Franken.
“Prosecutors need to be held accountable. They shouldn’t get to destroy someones life and then simply say sorry.”
I withdraw my smart crack about your ‘dumbness’ - I viewed you comment in isolation from this context. I agree with your larger point about the perverse incentives enjoyed by prosecutors and some police - to advance their careers they railroad chumps, and this financial remedy just eases their consciences at the public expense.
Still, to engineer one’s own false conviction on the hopes of a certain monetary reward makes an interesting movie premise, but could hardly be a rational choice, given the violent chaos of the prison system.
Imprisoning reckless prosecutors would be a reasonable step to reduce the overall occurrence of wrongful convictions.
Except for her, the politicians here are trying to recreate the Third World. But the upstanding values of the natives, even in the less-well-off Iron Range up North, are getting in the way of true hellhole status.
Interesting THREAD here.
AND ... some interesting posts as well. :)
- - - - -
Pingin’ a few Texans here!
(And pingin’ my General Interest List as well cuz I thought
you’d wanna know!) :)
Ping! Ping! Ping!
Possibly the most muddle-headed post of all time.
Ha, ha, ha! A “hellhole,” eh? How are you enjoying Senator Al Franken?
I confess come and get me .............(ahhh retirement)
1) A person, most likely an ex-con that knows the prison inside out, decides 5 years of his life is worth $400k.
2) You stage a crime so that the evidence points to you.
3) You produce hard evidence at the same time that you didn't do it - and you hide it for later use.
4) You let the prosecutor do his job.
5) When you decide you've collected enough payback time - at $80k a year - you arrange for the evidence to be discovered.
6) You get out of prison, get to collect $80k for each year served and you get a long term annuity. In my previous example you walk out with $400k and who knows what in a lifetime annuity. Not bad for an unskilled criminal over 5 years... Especially if their alternative is minimum wage with nothing left after living expenses. No future, no hope.
Just because you apparently can't follow the logic doesn't make it “muddle-headed”...
You may not agree with it, but you don't have to be an ass in the process.
Thanks Meekie. Yeah, I imagine Travis county has a few that will eventually overturned. Just remember DA ronnie earle’s name will be on some.
I accept your “withdraw”.
There’s several levels of prison security. From minimum to maximum. I assume this applies to any wrongful conviction regardless of which level prison you end up in. It doesn’t have to be a violent crime does it? Just a wrongful conviction.
I would think there would be a number of people that would be willing to go to a minimum security prison for 5 years, walk away with $400k and a lifetime annuity. Especially people that already have been there and know how to handle it and are only getting minimum wage outside prison with little chance of improving it.
That is one for the books. I am going to copy this post and save it; it is that funny.
“$1.8 million is not nearly enough for 23 years of a mans life. I dont know that any amount of money can make up for losing your freedom, not to mention your reputation and respect and a third of your lifetime.”
Maybe so, but I don’t want my tax money spent for that-The proscecutor should have to pay both from his budget and his personal funds.
See post 72.
You can skip the first and last line unless you want to make it personal...
And I was talking about ideas...
It is the flat out dumbest post ever.
Care to explain?
Or is it beneath you?
Would you actually live in prison for $80K a year?? If someone were criminally inclined enough to do what you're saying, I think they'd probably think they could just take the $80,000 from a bank today without doing the year in prison.
Ya gotta do more'n ring doorbells and run. Shaving rats and dressing them in Barbi clothes may not be enough either!
Now you tell me.
There's half the morning wasted, then.
I trust yer experience in on the issue ......thanks for saving me from wasting my time on that !
What about sod poodles ?
He's a worthy successor to Jesse ("The Mouth") Ventura.
...but when Sarah Palin said "You betcha!" a LOT of Minnesotans said, "Hey! She talks like US!"
Here is what you are missing: the reason these people are exonerated is that 20-30 years ago scientists realized DNA identification was possible, but not yet available. So in cases where identity was an issue, and DNA evidence was available, the DNA was preserved for the future. So in cases where the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, or eyewitness ID, if the DNA doen't fit, they should've acquitted, and now the innocent guy gets out and gets some compensation for his ordeal.
The idea that some modern day criminal/CSI tech could manufacture a crime scene where, magically, five years later exonerating evindence will appear (remember someone on the outside has to believe he is innocent and take up the case, the prisons are full of guilty criminals who all claim to be innocent) is ludicrous.
So, yes, dumbest post ever. Congratulations.
Thanks for the ping!
I was about to say that humblegunner’s post about the morning being wasted was useless without pics, but then I see Eaker posted one.
No, no, no...ring the doorbell, wait until you hear the person about to answer the door, then run and do a spectacular fake trip-n-fall in their yard. Mutter cusswords under your breath, start to get up and stumble, falling back to the ground.
The poor sucker at the door always has the most interestng expression on his/her face...
So I've heard, anyway.
I don’t think taxpayers should be punished for the bad judges of the state.
Those are the guys who should pony up this cash, not the taxpayers
Yeah, this summer of record heat and little rain made it seem sorta *3rd world*.
We have friends that live out close to Mille lacs and my Wife works for 3M here in Austin.
Funny, many of the Northerners who I know from 3M say they'll never move back because of their hate for shoveling snow.
I won't try and change ya’ll minds. We have enough of a crowd trying to move here.
Please do visit again though.
See it’s catching on ............:o)
Thanks for that pic young lady ! I am gonna frame it !
Certainly Hollywood has an enormous influence on people's thinking, which often muddles their thought processes. Reality is different, however, and I don't see how such a charade could be successfully executed.
Indeed, if the plan required a large conspiracy, that would have to include the police, the prosecutors, the jury, and the witnesses, and they would all have to conspire for the benefit of the criminal and his plan, only for the verdict to be reversed years later. In the end, the payoff is only $80k a year. It doesn't make sense.
Its not necessarily bad judges, cops or prosecutors. Sometimes it is. But unfortunately, lay persons don’t understand that eyewitness testimony is the worst evidence there is. And the other problem is we have strayed far from the principle that “better 10 guilty men go free than one innocent convicted”. Now “beyond a reasonable doubt” has been watered to mean “he’s probably guilty” or “he didn’t prove he didn’t do it” or even “he’s guilty of something, just look at him”.
I don’t disagree. “preponderance of the evidence”? which is pretty meaningless has always bugged me.
My thought though is that taxpayers should not be punished for the actions of judges and prosecutors.
BTW, did you see the story from Jericho Arkansas the other day?? It was wild.