Since 1992, Texas has paid more than $42 million to compensate 74 men and women who together spent more than 700 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, says the Texas Tribune. How much the state pays exonerated prisoners depends largely on when they were released and applied for compensation. Changes in the law over the last decade have created vastly different payouts, leaving prisoners who were released earlier feeling doubly wronged.
From 1985 until 2001, only two Texas prisoners sued the state for compensation after they were exonerated, and the state paid them a total of $50,970. With the advent of DNA testing, the number of wrongful convictions began to increase significantly. By 2007, the legislature had doubled the compensation to $50,000 per year of imprisonment and $100,000 per year on death row. Despite the discrepancies, Kevin Glasheen, a lawyer who helped design the latest law on the issue, says that Texas has done “better job than really any other state in the union. It's not perfect, and it could be better.”