The cruel and un­usual case of Rene Lima-Marin

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - By Sharon Bridge­forth and Frank Tapy

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.

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