Everyone seems to agree — even politicians who almost never do — that Rene Lima-Marin shouldn’t be in prison, get him out of there.
A huge group of often combative and polarized Colorado legislators, who barely agree on what day of the week it is, have unanimously decided that wrongly imprisoned Lima-Marin should be freed.
So then why is this Aurora man still behind bars?
The entire state House of Representatives, a near split of Republicans and Democrats, voted last week to insist that Lima-Marin should be freed after having served more than eight years for two 1998 robberies he committed as a teenager.
Almost everyone in Colorado knows Lima-Marin’s story. They just don’t know why he’s still in jail.
When Marin was barely old enough to legally smoke, he and an accomplice stupidly and wrongly robbed two Aurora video stores at gunpoint. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Marin was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to 98 years in prison as part of a plea bargain. His lawyers told him he probably would serve only a few years.
In 2008, he was paroled.
Beating the odds, Marin then turned his life around. He got a job as a glass glazer. He met a woman and fell in love. He adopted her son, and they got married and had a child of their own.
If even half of Colorado’s released convicts accomplished what Lima-Marin did, the state would be a vastly safer place for all of us.
Six years later, after Marin had become the model of what we would hope all Colorado convicts become, he was notified that his parole had been a mistake. A clerk had made a recording error years ago, and he was inadvertently released early. Cops took him back to prison in 2013.
He’s still there right now. After doing something asinine and criminal, he was imprisoned as an adolescent, reformed, released and became a responsible husband, father and citizen.
It’s ludicrous to have sent him back to prison, and it’s just a ludicrous that it’s since taken so long to right that wrong and get him back out.
If a group of politicians who virtually never agree on anything of substance agree that Lima-Marin deserves to be freed, it’s time to make good.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office said that a measure is in the works and undergoing the usual due process.
This isn’t a driver license application or a request for tax enterprise zone fees or anything close to usual. It’s a man’s life and the life of his family subjected to justice more typically doled out in Iran or China. It’s only a lame excuse that this has taken so long, and not a very good one. The Constitution empowers Hickenlooper to end Lima-Marin’s sentence now.
Cut the bureaucratic malarkey and free Lima-Marin so he can resume his reformed life, and state lawmakers can look for yet another meaningful project to find unanimous consensus on.