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Submitted 12:30 p.m. EDT
Letter to the Editor

In my case I was implicated, incorrectly so, sentenced to 60 years and before being sent off to prison, inexplicably released. ”

Shawn Haxton of Long Beach, California

I feel a ton of compassion for the man and his family. In 1989 I was arrested in Texas for a drug charge and charged with "conspiracy to possess a controlled substance"...In my case I was implicated, incorrectly so, sentenced to 60 years and before being sent off to prison, inexplicably released.

I know exactly how it feels to have your life handed back to you after losing it. There is just no way anyone would say, "Hey wait a minute, I'm suppose to stay here forever, what are you doing?" There is a difference here though. In this man's case he had reason to believe that the mistake that happened would stand and never be discovered. It stood for 10 years up to his release and it carried through his release. I think he had every right in the world to start a family and believe, or at least hope, that it would never be discovered.

In my case I had no knowledge of what happened or why it happened, only that it did. When I walked out of the jail it took every bit of my willpower not to break into a run immediately, fearing that the mistake could be discovered before I got out of the parking lot.

That was in 1990. At the time I thought it was the best possible thing that could happen for me. But it wasn't. I was free but I had absolutely no reason to think it would last, I had no business starting a family and didn't. I went into fugitive mode, left the state and was terrified to get a job, use my social security number, or tell anyone the truth about myself. And so it went, 1 year, then 2, then 5. After 10 years I was finally arrested and returned to Williamson County to do my 60 year sentence. My "friend" was by now finished with his sentence and here I was, 10 years older, 40 years old instead of 30. At a time in most of our lives when we build a history of working, become proficient at a trade or a way of earning a living, start a family, make contacts and friends who lead to jobs and references necessary in today's job market, I was instead just beginning my sentence for "conspiring" to possess a controlled substance. What seemed to be a fantastic stroke of good fortune in 1990 didn't seem so sweet in 2000 after running from it for 10 years. I served my time and was released in 2007 and paroled out to California where I had spent those 10 years waiting for the axe to fall..

In this story he knew before hand of his pending release and it changed him, gave him hope, and rightfully led him to become a better person...There needs to be some common sense, some compassion in our judicial system here in the "land of the free". If he had been released before serving 10 years I would understand that even though he'd turned his life around, he needed to pay a price for his crimes. But to do both and be returned to prison forever? Surely the prison bed he sleeps in could be put to better use?

This letter written in response to