A Virginia man, Arthur Whitfield, spent 22 years of his life imprisoned for two rapes he never committed, and for his time spent, he will get more than $632,000 in restitution, after a unanimous decision by state lawmakers on Wednesday.
Whitfield, 54, was sentenced to 63 years in prison in 1982. In 2004, however, DNA tests proved his innocence and he was freed, reports BlackLegalIssues.com.
In order to acquire the money due, Whitfield had to provide paperwork stating his innocence called “writ of actual innocence,” however, that particular document was only legally valid for those who are incarcerated at that time. The Virginia Supreme court could not issue such documentation.
Whitfield’s only chance at the restitution was a pardon from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, but it was stalled because one of the rape victim’s opposed the pardon, keeping Whitfield from his due process for months.
“When we have a victim who continues to assert that the individual is guilty, we obviously had to take some time and make sure we had that right,” Kaine said Wednesday
Whitfield, who has been working in a produce factory, has recently been diagnosed with lever cancer and did not attend the legislative session Wednesday because he was getting a chemotherapy treatment, his lawyer Michael Fasanaro confirmed.
Although Whitfield is employed, he still struggles financially.
“I’m delighted that we’ve finally gotten some commitment from the state to pay him some money,” Fasanaro said
Whitfield will receive a lump sum of around $127,000 and will be paid the remainder each year.
“This guy holds no grudges,” Fasanaro said. Whitfield had hoped to get all the money at once so he could buy a house. He currently lives in an apartment, and his father drives him to work.
“He’s afraid that he’s still going to have to work, and he’s not going to be able to much longer” because of his health, Fasanaro said.
Sen. Kenneth Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, pushed for restitution after learning this summer that Whitfield had not been compensated for his time behind bars.
“I was extremely amazed at the fact that this guy holds no grudges against the community or the victims,” Stolle said. “He probably regrets what happened, but he is completely happy with being out of prison and is not asking for anything.”