Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today after signing SB41, which provides $1,075,178 in relief to Thomas Edward Haynesworth. Mr. Haynesworth was incarcerated for 27 years from 1984 until 2011 after being wrongfully convicted of a number of crimes. The convictions were the result of three different cases. Mr. Haynesworth has been issued a writ of actual innocence for all convictions in all of the cases.
"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. The system is strong and overwhelmingly successful in protecting Virginians and punishing those who commit crimes in our Commonwealth. 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. Mr. Haynesworth's case has been thoroughly reviewed by the courts, the Attorney General, the General Assembly, and this office, and he has been restored the freedom and rights due to him. Thomas Haynesworth's wrongful convictions and imprisonment were a tragedy and although the Commonwealth cannot return to him the years lost while serving time in prison, we can assist him as he rebuilds his life. 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. I thank Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Senator Henry Marsh, Senator Donald McEachin, Richmond City Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring and former Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney Wade Kizer for their leadership in righting this wrong. Providing this restitution is the correct and proper action by our Commonwealth."