Texas DNA Exonerees

DALLAS (AP) - Wiley Fountain spent 15 years in a jail cell for a rape he did not commit.

Now the wrongly convicted man is homeless.

The 52-year-old squandered nearly $390,000 in state compensation for his time behind bars.

To other exonerees and their lawyers, Fountain is the worst-case example of the need for reforms in how the wrongly convicted are
compensated.

DNA evidence has freed 36 wrongly convicted people in Texas --- the most in the nation, according to the Innocence Project. But unlike parolees, exonerees get almost no help from the state when they first re-enter society.

That could change this year.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, filed a bill to increase lump sum compensation from to $80,000 for each year of incarceration. The bill also would require the state to pay some of the compensation in annuities, assuring exonerees a lifetime income.

The payments would be retroactive to exonerees who already received lump sum payments.


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