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Compensation for wrongly incarcerated people

Not all states provide compensation for those who have dealt with wrongful incarceration, but Virginia does. It is a possibility, but not a right, for those who have overturned convictions. The reasons for the reversal can be innumerable, including improper police procedures, but not all will result in compensation.

Virginia has a statute that provides for compensation to some wrongfully convicted people who endured imprisonment because of that conviction. It is found in section 8.01-195.11, Compensation for wrongful incarceration.

Different kinds of payments available

Initially, there is a $15,000 grant for assisting the person in transitioning out of incarceration. Later, there is a further calculation using a 90 percent figure and the Virginia per capita personal income level. Thus, the amount payable may have no relation to the person’s real lost income. That determined amount is payable to the wrongly incarcerated person by an initial payment of 20 percent of the total cost. The remainder is payable by an annuity scheme over the years.

If the person received transition assistance, that amount offsets the later payment amount. An important advantage is that if the exonerated person passes away before all payment of all monthly checks, the annuity may go to his or her choice of beneficiary.

For those released people who choose to gain more education, there is also a $10,000 provision for successfully completing a training education. The education must take place with the Virginia community college system.

Compensation is not an absolute right and is not free

The statute section makes it clear that the compensation is not a right. Rather, an exonerated person must request compensation under the statute, and the request must receive approval by the Virginia General Assembly.

The annuity is not usable like other annuities in that it may not be security for a mortgage or loan, and it cannot be the subject of sale for immediate cash. Additionally, some further noteworthy strings include the following:

  • A later felony can cause loss of any and all unpaid amounts of awarded compensation.
  • Incarceration due to parole revocation can result in loss of payments for months of incarceration.
  • Accepting compensation comes with a waiver of the right to sue the state or its agencies for the wrongful incarceration.

Despite its less advantageous aspects, Virginia’s statute is one many an exonerated person who has suffered imprisonment will want to consider to assist in recouping her or his life and moving forward.

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