Monday, 7 December 2009

Dillon won’t be paid for time spent in prison

From the blog Plain Error :
Dillon won’t be paid for time spent in prison

Ryan — June 2, 2009 @ 12:21 PM — Comments (2)

That is the title of this article from Florida Today that was just published. The gist of the article is this: because Flrodia’s Victims of Wrongful Incarceration statute, passed last year, has a “clean hands” provision, barring anyone with prior felonies from being awarded compensation, William Dillon will not be paid by the state for his 27 years of wrongful incarceration. If it sounds obviously unjust to you, that’s because it is.

What the state is in essence saying is that Dillon is not entitled to, or does not deserve, the money because of his prior felony conviction, which was a DUI and possession of a controlled substance in 1979.Dillon plead to that crime, did his time and paid the fine. He ought to stand redeemed in the eyes of the state vis-à-vis that crime.

“It’s a shame that a nonviolent drug conviction from when Mr. Dillon was 19 years old would bar him from being compensated under the new Victims of Wrongful Incarceration statute,” attorney Melissa Montle of the Innocence Project of Florida said. “He now has to file a claims bill during a recession in order to be rightfully compensated for the 27 years he spent in prison for a crime he did not commit.”

Several of the comments on the article make good points, albeit blunt and somewhat inelegant. Most are rightfully angry at the state for what is clearly an injustice. Most say things like, “The state made a mistake, time to pay up.” That’s a sentiment I can get behind 100%, mostly because it’s absolutely correct. I like this one from Augnoz especially, because it sounds like something I would exclaim when not speaking in an official capacity for this organization: “Dillon got the shaft, correct this travesty.”

But one comment is so dangerously false that it merits my correction. earthwateruser says, among other things, that “A compensation bill for wrongful imprisonment for 27 years shouldn’t be a difficult thing to accomplish [this legislative session],” and points to the number of compensation bills that get passed each year. This is simply not true.Out of Florida’s 10 DNA exonerees, only two have been compensated. Under this new bill, the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration statute, it is not clear that a single person has been awarded compensation. It is not easy. It is not common.

GenPop also chimes in and Courtney makes a good point when she asks, “Is [this] not then a continuation of the punishment for a minor drug offense 30 years after the fact?” It could easily be seen as a punishment in the philosophical sense, since it is an adverse treatment or harm – treatment that would not otherwise be acceptable – in light of some transgression. You might also think that, by letting his wrongful incarceration go unremedied, the state is refusing to admit wrongdoing, and letting it stand as an acceptable act of punishment against his previous offense.

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