Thursday, May 17, 2007


James C. Tillman was 26 when he was accused of raping a woman in Hartford, Conn. The victim identified Tillman as her attacker. He was convicted and sent to prison.

Eighteen years passed. Science matured and DNA from the 1988 attack was analyzed. The results proved Tillman wasn't the rapist.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted unanimously to give Tillman $5 million. The Associated Press reports:
Moved by Tillman's humbleness and lack of bitterness over his ordeal, lawmakers said they hoped the money will give him an opportunity to live out the rest of his life with relative comfort. The bill passed 148-0.

"I think we all wonder, could we be so kind and gentle and humble as we find this person," asked Rep. Kenneth Green, D-Hartford. "He did not deserve to be incarcerated for 18-and-a-half years -- $5 million is the least that we can do."
Connecticut's governor, M. Jodi Rell, had proposed a $500,000 payout, but said she would sign the bill, no matter the dollar amount: "How do you put a price tag on someone's time in prison for a crime that he did not commit?"

It's easy to slap a callous price tag on the Tillman case. The award equals more than $277,777 a year for the 18 lost years -- almost $5,342 a week, or more than $133.54 an hour. But what sane human would be willing to spend 18 years in prison for a $5 million paycheck?

A lively discussion on a Hartford Courant message board shows some people think the award is excessive. One early comment:
The only way Tillman would have earned 5mil in his life time would have been if he had won the lottery!!!!!!!!!! Well, he just did. Shame on the legislators for not seeing that!
We all know that winning a lottery isn't always a blessing.

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