CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Students at the University of Virginia School of Law have helped people receive millions in compensation after being pardoned.

According to a release, the Innocence Project recently worked with state lawmakers to get $6.25 million for six people who have been pardoned over the last year.

Additionally, the project contributed to reforms on how wrongfully incarcerated defendants are given compensation.

Compensation was approved for Joey Carter, Lamar Barnes, Bobbie Morman, Jr., Emerson Stevens, Jervon Tillman, and Eric Weakley after each of them receive absolute pardons.

Each of these Innocence Project clients also participated in lobbying efforts as part of a series of proposed reforms.

Juliet Hatchett, the associate director of the Innocence Project Clinic, says Virginia is the only state where statutory compensation is awarded on a case-by-case basis through the state legislature.

“We are very proud of the work our six clients who were exonerated in this past year did to try to improve compensation in this state for everyone who will follow in their footsteps,” she said.

Hatchett also says the clinic took on the effort to push reforms because of how Virginia’s existing compensation scheme is not sufficient.

Among the changes to state law, the initial lump sum for most exonerated people will be 25 percent of the total award with the remaining 75 percent to be paid out over 10 years as an annuity.

The award amount has also been fixed at $55,000 per year of wrongful incarceration with an annual adjustment for inflation. Previously, the amount had been 90 percent of per capita income.

Finally, the new language in the state code makes the award not taxable by the state.

The bill had also sought to make payment to exonerees automatic instead of requiring action from the General Assembly, remove the “clean hands” bar that stops payments if an exoneree who is getting an annuity is convicted of an unrelated felony, and expand eligibility to those who plead guilty to crimes they did not actually commit by submitting an Alford plea.

Hatchett says this new law is progress but compensation to the wrongfully incarcerated still needs revision.

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