The cruel and unusual case of Rene Lima-Marin
Rene Lima-Marin’s inspiring story of rehabilitation took a drastic turn in February 2013, when he received a phone call informing him that a clerical error had been made at the time of his sentencing years earlier. The multiple sentences he received were to have been served consecutively rather than concurrently. He was ordered to surrender and serve the remainder of his sentences totaling 98 years. Relying on his newly found faith in God, LimaMarin surrendered to authorities and was returned to prison, where he remains today.
His present situation certainly is “unusual,” and due to attending circumstances, it is also “cruel.” Consequently, the Justice Action Ministry of Together Colorado believes LimaMarin’s punishment is by definition unconstitutional.
“To establish justice.” Those familiar words in the Preamble to the Constitution Rene Lima-Marin of the United
was released from States of America
prison in 2008, then were embedded in the republic’s returned in 2013 after founding a clerical error was document because discovered. AP file it was understood that the principles of justice, namely reason, discretion, and fairness were vital to achieving a free society and maintaining the trust of its people. Wisely, the founders also included the protection granted in the Eighth Amendment, whereby “cruel and unusual punishment” was prohibited. Despite these provisions, an unusual combination of circumstance has occurred in Colorado that violates these basic principles.
Lima-Marin’s case began when, at the age of 19, he was arrested and sentenced to prison for armed robbery. He readily admits his guilt and concedes he made a serious mistake. He served eight years for his crime. During that time he was a model inmate with no violations on his record. Upon his release from prison in 2008, he became a productive citizen and community member. He found a goodpaying job, bought a house, and married Jasmine, the love of his life. They became the proud parents of a baby boy, Jojo. The couple adopted Jasmine’s older son, Justice, and joined a church where LimaMarin led a class for boys that focused on good citizen behavior. Furthermore, he completed five years of parole without a single violation.
Lima-Marin overcame all obstacles and achieved a successful transition. But then came the fateful phone call. Last year the Colorado Supreme Court returned an appeal of the case to Arapahoe County.
Lima-Marin’s imprisonment is a needless financial burden to the state and represents no public-safety benefit. That he surrendered to authorities of his own volition rather than attempting to evade capture following notification of the clerical error in his case is a strong testament to his honesty and moral conviction. But most importantly, his continued imprisonment is an egregious injustice to him and his family, who are being punished for a clerical error committed by the judicial system. That this travesty to justice was not intentional is of little consolation to those whose lives are being so severely impacted.
The Lifelines Justice Action Ministry of Together Colorado, a multi-race, multifaith, non-partisan organization, is compelled to act on Lima-Marin’s behalf. We held a large prayer vigil on Wednesday in front of the Arapahoe County courthouse to call public attention to his case. We believe in restoration and redemption. We believe Lima-Marin’s place is back home with his family, and like him, we are people of faith.
Therefore, we will continue to rely on the decency and morality of those involved in the decision making process, including those in the 18th Judicial District, for a successful outcome to this unfortunate situation. Sharon Bridgeforth is board president of Together Colorado. Frank Tapy is treasurer of Together Colorado.