Talk about bad luck! Anthony Graves served 18 years in a Texas Penitentiary, 14 of those years on death row, for a wrong conviction! That's right! The man served more than a decade and a half behind bars for something he DIDN'T do!
How should the government compensate Graves after taking 18 years of his freedom? It certainly doesn't replace the years he lost, but Texas law allocates $80,000 a year, for each year served, to any individual who was wrongly convicted. This means that the state of Texas owes Anthony Graves $1,440,000! But to make thigns even worse, Graves won't receive a penny! When ample evidence was presented by Graves' attorneys proving that Graves was innocent, the Brenham prosecutor's office of Brehnam, Texas decided to dismiss charges orginally filed against Graves, instead of retrying him all over again and finding him "Innocent." Sure, it was thoughtful to refrain from dragging Graves and his family through a long trial and courtroom chaos. However, unless there is proper documentation filed with Texas courts stating that Graves is "Innocent", Graves receives zero monetary compensation. No one disputes Graves' innocence. Everyone says he deserves the money. And sadly enough, this how Graves comments on his misfortune, "It doesn't feel good being a 45-year-old man and having to depend on your family just to make sure you eat. It's kind of embarassing. But right now, this is my life."
I feel like Graves and I have something in common, but not because I served 18 years behind bars. I can't imagine how terrifying and lonely that must have been! But like Graves, I too have been a "Victim of Injustice!" I've been found "Innocent" when my life clearly proves that I'm "Guilty!" Perhaps Isaiah said it best when he spoke of Jesus in this way, "He was assinged a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth." (Isaiah 53:9) Everything I've done wrong, and every sin I still committ, Christ Jesus paid the price! How amazing, how wonderful, how meaningful it is that because of JESUS, God holds back what I DESERVE!
The truth is that all of us are "Victims of Injustice." Jesus didn't go the cross just for me, but Jesus "...gave his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28) So here's the real question: What will YOU do with YOUR Freedom? Graves can't replace the years he lost, and we can't change the things we've done wrong! But all of us can repent; all of us can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus in the waters of baptism. And like Paul, all of us can "forget what is behind", "strain toward what is ahead", and "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus!" (Philippians 3: 13-14)
Now that's what I call compensation!