Georgia ready to pay freed inmate

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ATLANTA - A man wrongly imprisoned nearly 25 years for rape is set to get a $1.2 million payback from the state.

Today, the Georgia House will consider paying Robert Clark that much in restitution for his time in prison for a 1981 attack before DNA evidence cleared his name two years ago.

The resolution, by Rep. Larry O'Neal, R-Warner Robins, says the Atlanta man's imprisonment "occurred through no fault or negligence on the part of Mr. Clark, and it is only fitting and proper that he be compensated for his loss."

The state Claims Advisory Board, the first panel to hear requests for restitution from the state, heard Mr. Clark's case last month and recommended that the Legislature pay him.

The board left the amount of restitution up to the Legislature. The $1.2 million is based on the income Mr. Clark lost while imprisoned, personal injury, injury to his reputation and other damages.

Mr. Clark, now 46, had no prior felony convictions. He was the 197th person nationally and the sixth person in Georgia to be cleared by DNA evidence of a criminal conviction, according to The Innocence Project, a New York-based group that works to overturn wrongful convictions.

Lisa George, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Innocence Project, said the $1.2 million check might sound like a lot but that when Mr. Clark's losses are considered, it's really not.

He was a 21-year-old house painter when he was arrested.

"If he'd just kept doing that from the day he was arrested to the day he got out of prison, his hard-dollar losses were over $1 million," Ms. George said.

Under the restitution plan, Mr. Clark will get monthly checks from the state over the next 15 years totaling about $80,000 per year. The checks will be subject to federal taxes.

Mr. O'Neal, who argued Mr. Clark's case before the claims board, invited him to attend the House vote today. Ms. George said Mr. Clark - who told the claims board he's been "struggling a little bit on and off" since his release in December 2005 - is now working a construction job but is trying to get time off to attend.

She said Mr. Clark has received a couple of job promotions since starting work last year and hopes to become a crane operator.

"His attitude has been great," said Ms. George, who said Mr. Clark still stops by the Innocence Project office for visits. "He'll be covered in concrete dust from head to toe, as filthy as he can be, and smiling just like the day he walked out of prison."

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Rob
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Rob 03/19/07 - 07:08 am
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Thank God for justice.

Thank God for justice.

ganascarracefan
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ganascarracefan 03/19/07 - 07:59 am
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i'm glad his out.....the

i'm glad his out.....the money sure don't make up lost time as growing and being with his family n the hell he went through n prison..but hes out n i hope he lives his life to the fullest now god bless him n his family

KingJames
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KingJames 03/19/07 - 12:34 pm
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What, if anything, has the

What, if anything, has the victim of the attack in 1981 done to apologize to Mr. Clark?

daemon99
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daemon99 03/19/07 - 10:46 pm
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Well, it's not going to give

Well, it's not going to give him his years back, but the fact they see the need to compensate him is something, I guess.

WW1949
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WW1949 03/20/07 - 08:34 am
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Maybe the victim should spend

Maybe the victim should spend time in jail for identifing the wrong person. I think that would be justice. When people get arrested the news media gets all hyped up and put pictures in the paper and on the TV and radio because they think they are doing good when sometimes they are just helping the victim make up their mind on the wrong person. The police put pressue on the victim to identify someone so they can close the case. You should be absolutly sure without a doubt before you convict. I'm glad he got out.

toppergem
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toppergem 03/20/07 - 02:04 pm
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Godd for our elected

Godd for our elected officials...he needed to receive some sort of compensation for all the wasted years of his life. But no amount of money can make up for all that this person lost because of faulty testimony/and incorrect identification by the victim.

He is not person who has been placed in prision falsely. It only goes to show how much room there is for error in both the law enforcement and judicial arenas.

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