Some Wrongfully Convicted In Texas Can’t Get State Compensation


Megan Winfrey, 25, was behind bars in Texas for six years after she, her father and brother, were charged in the 2004 stabbing and beating death of a school janitor. In February, Texas' highest criminal court cleared Winfrey, ruling that the dog scent evidence prosecutors used against her was insufficient.

Now, says the Texas Tribune in an article appearing in the New York Times, she faces the challenge of starting a life as a single parent. She has had no job training, and has a capital murder conviction on her record. Because she was not declared “actually innocent” or pardoned, she is ineligible for compensation for the years she spent in prison. Texas has the nation's most generous compensation law for the wrongly convicted, but only where the exoneree has been pardoned or declared actually innocent. Some criminal justice advocates argue that the law should be expanded to account for situations like Winfrey's. Others worry that broadening the law could lead to abuses.

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