The Austin Chronicle

Tim Cole Act Becomes Law

By Jordan Smith, May 28, 2009, 7:58am, Newsdesk

Gov. Rick Perry yesterday signed Dallas Democrat Rafael Anchía's House Bill 1736, which increases compensation for exonerees. "While we cannot give back the time lost to those wrongfully convicted who have spent time in prison, or their families, this new law is a significant step for justice by increasing compensation for the innocent," Perry said in a press release.

The new law, named for Tim Cole, who was wrongfully convicted of a 1985 rape in Lubbock and who died in prison before he was finally exonerated earlier this year, increases lump sum compensation to exonerees to $80,000 for each year spent in prison. The law also allows for benefits to be paid to heirs and provides for payment of college tuition, up to 120 credit hours.

"This is a great day for Texas, and for the cause of justice in Texas," Anchía said. "The Tim Cole Act could not have passed without the extraordinary efforts of a lot of courageous and committed individuals, including Tim Cole's family and the exonerees themselves."

Other related measures -- including eyewitness identification reform -- are still pending.

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