The Connecticut legislature yesterday voted unanimously to award $5 million to Calvin Tillman who spent 18 year in prison for rape and was freed after DNA tests showed he could not have done it. He and his mother were invited in after the vote and got “sustained applause”.
Legislators seemed shaken by the fallibility of the legal system – and humbled by how graciously Tillman has coped with that failure.
“I’ll never vote for the death penalty again,” Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, told Tillman after the 33-0 vote in the Senate. “This did it for me.”
Sen. Ed Gomes, D-Bridgeport, called Tillman the most gracious man he had ever met.
“If this had happened to me, I would hate the world for the rest of my life,” Gomes said.
How many more are there like Tillman? He was freed through the efforts of the Connecticut Innocence Project, a state program.
The nationwide Innocence Project has been instrumental in getting 200 convictions reversed based on DNA testing and works towards reforming the criminal system. Tragically, 15 inmates have been executed prior to DNA testing that showed them to be innocent.