A Florida man who was exonerated after serving 31 years in state jail for a criminal offense he didn’t commit is not going to be compensated for the years he lost behind bars.
Underneath Florida regulation, Thomas Raynard James ought to qualify for greater than $1.5 million for his 1991 wrongful conviction for the homicide of an aged Miami man in a house invasion and theft, however a provision disqualifies him from receiving a payout, reviews present.
“I’m not indignant. I’m damage,” James said. “I’m damage by it.”
James, 55, was launched in April after prosecutors reviewed his case. Miami-Dade State Legal professional Katherine Fernandez Rundle mentioned a key witness recanted their story, and James handed a polygraph take a look at. One other man with the identical identify has been fingered in reference to the crime .
Thomas Raynard James was arrested in 1990 for the theft and homicide of Francis McKinnon after witnesses recognized Vincent “Canine” Williams as one of many suspects. Thomas “Tommy” James mentioned he had deliberate the crime with Williams, however he was arrested on unrelated expenses earlier than they may comply with by means of. Williams then sought the assistance of one other man, Derrick Evans, as an alternative.
Rundle’s workplace additionally reviewed 10,000 pages of paperwork associated to the case earlier than liberating James.
Whereas the state regulation awards Floridians $50,000 for every year of a wrongful conviction, Thomas was ineligible as a result of he was convicted of one other crime earlier than he was sentenced to life in jail in January 1991.
Florida’s “clear arms” provision precludes those that dedicated crimes whereas in jail and earlier than they have been wrongfully convicted from being paid. James was convicted of resisting an officer with violence a yr earlier than his arrest for McKinnon’s homicide.
“That signifies that the state of Florida is saying that we did you fallacious and we now know that you’re harmless, however we don’t owe you something,” James mentioned.
Adina Thompson, the consumption coordinator with the Innocence Venture of Florida, mentioned Florida is the one state with the rule.
Stories present that just one individual has certified for compensation of as much as $2 million over the previous 5 years. Nevertheless, 30 convictions have been cleared for the reason that regulation handed in 2008. NBC 6 reviews that the state has paid simply 4 folks underneath the regulation.
“That’s actually the most important and most painful barrier to individuals who would in any other case be eligible,” Thompson mentioned. “It is a matter that impacts everybody as a result of everybody might doubtlessly expertise a wrongful conviction themselves. So it’s primary humanity. It’s a primary kindness to restore a fallacious society has achieved to those people.”
Thomas, who was 23 years outdated when he was sentenced, mentioned the payout he’s now ineligible for is minor in comparison with how a lot he misplaced as he struggles to start out his life over.
“It’s a small factor, actually small, compared to what I misplaced,” James mentioned.