Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Man wrongly jailed for rape will get $250,000 lump sum, 20-year annuity

The story is reprinted below

Comment: State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, is to be commended for the humanity she showed in sponsoring a bill that acknowledges the suffering of the wrongly accused. The money will never make Alan Crotzer whole, nor give him back the time stolen from him. But compensation is an important first step to focusing on the wrongly accused/convicted.

For example, when the crime of false reporting of rape (a crime whose victims are almost exclusively male) is discussed, it is almost always viewed through a gynocentric lens that blinks at the harm it causes innocent men. As shown on this Web site, when reports of false accusations by mainstream news outlets, which take on a cookie-cutter redundancy, invariably report a police officer or judge chiding the false accuser for the "real" harm she's caused -- not to the man wrongly accused or other potential men she might accuse, but to phantom, even unborn women who might be less willing to "come forward" with legitimate rape claims because of the false accusation. It is simply not socially acceptable to discuss false rape accusations as a widespread problem for men meriting serious attention because such a view does not conform to the feminist metanarrative about sexual assault.

Here's the story:

Alan Crotzer has heard plenty of apologies from lawmakers and state officials for the 24 years he spent in prison for crimes he didn't commit. On Tuesday, he and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink signed the $1.25 million agreement that will put dollars behind those words. Crotzer will receive a tax-free lump sum of $250,000 and then $6,700 a month for 20 years, beginning June 1, from an annuity.

"Twenty-seven years ago the state made a mistake, Alan Crotzer ended up paying for that mistake with over 24 years of his life, in pain and suffering," said CFO Sink. Crotzer thanked his team of lawyers, family and God for getting him to this point. "I hope this is truly the beginning of a not-ending life for me," Crotzer said. Frank Peterman, Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, has said he is looking for a job for Crotzer in his department. Crotzer said he wants to counsel youth to stay out of trouble.

Crotzer was charged with rape, aggravated assault and false imprisonment in 1981 and eventually received a 130-year sentence. He was set free in 2006 after DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Sink said the claims process has been made less political since the Legislature approved a bill that will allow automatic compensation for the wrongfully incarcerated. The plan includes a provision to make those with prior felony convictions ineligible for the automatic payment. Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, sponsored that bill and gave some of the credit for it passing to the attention given to Crotzer's fight for compensation. "The fact that Mr. Crotzer was in the claims process this year helped highlight the importance in Florida seeking to do what's right," Joyner said.

Since Crotzer has a felony on his record for stealing beer as a teenager, he would not have been eligible for automatic compensation. Crotzer, who is from St. Petersburg, said he wants to stay in the Tallahassee area and buy a house. He also promised to return to the capital next year and lobby lawmakers to refine the "clean hands" provision on the global compensation bill.
"It would make me feel good," said Crotzer.