Plotted From A Prison Cot, Wrongly Accused Man Whips Smoothie Dream Into Reality

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Support for this NPR podcast and the following message. Come from NBC's new drama the enemy within Erica shepherd betrayed her country. Now, she's the FBI's only hope in stopping America's greatest enemy. But can she be trusted Mondays beginning February twenty fifth on NBC? A man went out of prison and into business. Mark Shand spent almost three decades in Massachusetts prison for a crime. He did not commit New England public radio's Karen Brown reports on his effort to make up for lost time. Heavily tattooed and muscular, Mark, Shan, pours, a freshly blended pineapple and coconut smoothie into a plastic Cup. He lets it overflow into the dome lid and passes it to his five year old granddaughter recap. Wait a minute use two hands. She passes it to a customer at shands smoothie cafe Sweetwater. So you go. Welcome. This year old Connecticut business is meant to reboot a career. Shan says was stolen from him at the age of nineteen in the months before he was arrested for murder he'd been preparing to open his first clothing store sign. The lease got LLC had not been locked up. Where would I be known, Shan? Now, fifty four always insisted. He was nowhere near the nineteen Eighty-six nightclub shooting in Springfield, Massachusetts that killed a young woman in two thousand thirteen new evidence convinced a judge to let them go. But as an exonerate Shand was not eligible for job training housing or other reentry services offered to people on parole. So we had to take manual labor jobs with long hours dictated by boss. It wasn't exactly the same as prison, but it wasn't different enough plan on the person. Again, if I could help it but to start his own business he needed money, and he says, no Bank would. Him alone. So he turned to a Massachusetts statute that compensates the wrongfully convicted at that time, the maximum was half a million dollars. He thought the state would right? It's wrong without a fuss. But he ended up spending three years in a legal fight for that money. Some might look at say, well, if the court it to release this person, then why don't you just write the check? That's massachusetts. Attorney general Maura Healey whose office represents the state against exonerates, but the statute only permits recovery if that person has established has proved actual innocence as is common in many states exonerates have to go back to court to prove they didn't get out on a technicality, which takes time and resources we found that the lot wasn't working the way we expected it to Massachusetts state Senator Patricia Jalen co wrote the compensation law in two thousand four and last year, partly because of Mark Shan helped rewrite it the cap on. Restitution was doubled to. Million dollars, plus attorneys fees and claims are now fast-tracked Massachusetts is one of nine states that have recently expanded or created new compensation laws, according to Rebecca Brown of the innocence project, but seventeen states still offer nothing pushing for monetary compensation for very small constituency is politically very difficult across the country. Restitution ranges from eighty thousand dollars per year in prison to no money at all what Brown would like to see in every state is immediate cash and services and a less onerous process to get full compensation when people come out of prison, they have nothing. So they're really in this no man's land in limbo waiting for. You know, just the most basic subsistence when Mark Shans case finally settled a couple years ago, he ended up with three hundred thousand dollars that's about eleven thousand per year in prison and while that paid for startup costs on his smoothie business. He doesn't look at compensation. As a start over grant. It's a moral debt. They should become something because they've wronged him. And it can't give you years back. So the fact that they yanked me and incarcerate me for thirty years the money. They gave me means nothing. Shand also filed a separate civil lawsuit. But that could take years for now he relies on his business acumen to make a living his best selling smoothie is called. Belinda and John Thomson after the lawyers who helped get him out of prison. Russia's whine up green apple ginger last year. He opened a second location. Eventually he'd like to hire ex inmates coming out of prison. Both the innocent and the guilty for NPR news. I'm Karen Brown in Springfield, Massachusetts. This message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators. That's why Comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences. Comcast business beyond fast.

Coming up next