Gov. McDonnell signs bill granting man wrongly incarcerated for 27 years over $1 million

Today the Governor signed a bill that awarded Thomas Haynesworth, who was wrongly convicted of sexual crimes and who served nearly three decades in prison, over $1 million to assist him in his newfound freedom.

Governor Bob McDonnell today signed SB41, which will provide Thomas Haynesworth $1,075,178. From 1984 to 2011, Haynesworth was incarcerated after being wrongly convicted of raping or sexually assaulting three women in the Richmond area. He was sentenced to 70 years, of which he served 27 before the Virginia Court of Appeals exonerated him in December 2011.

“Virginia’s criminal justice system is based upon the thorough investigation of crimes committed against our citizens, the prosecution of the offenders, and the handing down of just punishment to those convicted in a court of law for committing these criminal acts,” said Gov. McDonnell. “However, there are exceedingly rare occasions when our justice system, despite our best efforts, results in the conviction and imprisonment of someone who through further investigation of evidence or improved technology is later proven to be innocent. In these rare cases, all efforts should be made to assist these individuals as they return to society and work to resume their lives.”

Lawyers from the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project helped earn Haynesworth his freedom by having the Court of Appeals consider DNA evidence that ultimately exonerated the falsely imprisoned man. The bill of restitution that the governor signed was sponsored by State Senator Henry Marsh (D-Richmond) and State Senator Don McEachin (D-Richmond).

“Now, as Mr. Haynesworth begins the next chapter in his life, it is morally right for Virginia to provide him with a means to financial security and the ability to move on with his future. This restitution will help ensure that Mr. Haynesworth is able to build upon his freedom and return to society in a successful way.”

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stock photo by Dan4th

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