Former inmate locked-up too long asks state officials for compen - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Former inmate locked-up too long asks state officials for compensation

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A former inmate who served an additional thirteen months in prison because of a mistake in computing his release date asked members of the State Claims Board Wednesday for more than $67,000 to compensate for lost work opportunity.

Robin Gavinski said the state department of corrections "should be held accountable,"  just as corrections officials hold inmates accountable for rules violations.

Gavinski said he hoped his claim would lead to improvements on how state officials calculate prisoner release dates to head-off future errors.

Gavinski's attorney, Timothy Kiefer said the calculations are done with "pen and paper," are open to error, and should be modernized.

But DOC attorney Jonathan Nitti said errors in computing release dates are rare.

Gavinski was released from prison in August 2012, on the day after DOC officials said the mistake in his sentence was discovered. Keifer said DOC staff looked at two, separate prison terms for Gavinski, and mistakenly considered them consecutive to each other, instead of being concurrent.

Gavinski and Kiefer said the $67,000 represents the difference in pay Gavinski would have received from his Jefferson County factory job, if he had been a free man, instead of an inmate worker. Kiefer said the amount also included a small amount Gavinski would have earned in a handyman business he now operates, and attorney fees.

But Nitti said inmates are aware of their length of their sentences and release dates, and Gavinski contributed to his unwarranted, four hundred seventeen additional days in prison. "They're keenly aware of release dates," Nitti said.

But Gavinski said rules violations led him to have additional days added to his sentence. He said inmates have no reason to question calculations delivered to them by DOC officials. Kiefer also said Gavinski was also stymied from getting legal help, because his defense attorney from the cases died during Gavinski's period of incarceration.

Nitti also argued the state constitution and case law show the state is immune from legal responsibility in a matter such as Gavinski's claim. But a claims board member said the board could award up to $10,000 under a theory of equity. Any additional award would require legislative approval.

Gavinski's mother attended the hearing. and Gavinski told 27 News his business and factory work continue.

A decision from the claims board on Gavinski's request is expected in early April.


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