Compensation for wrongfully imprisoned - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Amarillo attorney speaks on compensation for wrongfully imprisoned man

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AMARILLO---An Amarillo attorney tells NewsChannel 10, there is much more work to be done following the compensation of a Texas man wrongfully imprisoned for murder.

Thursday, Anthony Graves received $80,000 from the Texas Comptrollers office for each year of his life spent behind bars for the wrongful imprisonment of a 1992 killing spree. The total sum, 1.45 million dollars.

According to Graves' Amarillo based attorney, Jeff Blackburn, the payment in no way proves the Texas criminal justice system is fair.

"He spent 17 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, then he got 1.4 million dollars. I dont think most people would make that trade. The fact that he was put on death row in the first place proves that our system is broken." expressed Blackburn.

It's a system Blackburn believes has thousands of Texans wrongfully imprisoned for various crimes.  He tells NewsChannel 10, every week, his non-profit, The Innocence Project of Texas, receives about 125 letters from Texas inmates claiming to be innocent of the crimes they are serving time for and asking for help to prove it.

"Ithink the panhandle has saved the rest of the state. We are the ones who have done the hardest work.The kids from the Panhandle doing this work. I think in the next year we are going to be able to get out 2 or 3 more people." said Blackburn

 With 5 years down out of a 30 year plan for The Innocence Project. Blackburn hopes other Texas lawyers will join his fight to keep innocent Texans out of prison.

 Just a couple months ago, Anthony Graves was not issued the payment because of improper language on paperwork, but the recent passing of new state legislation amended the compensation law.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says about 41 millions dollars has been awarded to about 70 people for wrongful convictions, the change in the law could help others join that pool.