I realize that our new Governor has pledged to get the roads fixed. And the Lord knows that Michigan’s infrastructure is long overdue for some serious attention.
But at the moment, I’m concerned about people like Nathaniel Hatchett.
The Detroit News reports today that Hatchett, age 39, of Detroit, is unable to collect $500,000 from the State of Michigan. He’s unemployed, broke, and he needs that money.
Hatchett, as it turns out, spent 10 years in prison for a sexual assault he didn’t commit. He was arrested at age 17 in Sterling Heights, and spent 10 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him. Prosecutors dropped the charges in 2008 and he was released from the Michigan prison system.
As you may recall, many of us who advocate for prisoners were able to persuade state legislators to adopt the Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act which says that wrongly convicted people are to receive $50,000 for each year spent in prison.
That was easier said than done, however, as our former Attorney General did what he could to drag the state’s heels in order to keep these poor people from getting their money. Hatchett had to go to court for his dollars, and in December he won his petition. Michigan Court of Claims Judge Colleen O'Brien ordered the state to pay him the full $500,000 by Jan. 16.
But he’s still not getting his money!
Michigan Department of Treasury spokesman Ron Leix is quoted in the Detroit News as saying that the exoneration fund contains about $1.6 million — or $400,000 less than the $2 million it owes just one wrongfully convicted murderer, Richard Phillips. Phillips spent 46 years in prison before his case was overturned.
So, Hatchett is still on hold.
It’s like a sign I saw in a little tavern where I stopped for a beer years ago. THOSE WHO CANNOT PAY FOR THEIR BEER ARE ASKED TO CONTACT OUR CREDIT MANAGER, HELEN WAITE.
Sounds to us like Hatchett has been told to go to the same person!
Tiffany Brown, spokeswoman for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, when contacted by the News, said: "At this time, we are not commenting on specific items in the budget until the Governor releases her executive budget in March.”
Sorry, not acceptable. State legislators, you made the law. Now live up to your agreement.
The roads can wait.