Millions spent; none for justice

Published May 9, 2007

Florida legislators could not find the compassion in their hearts or the money in their state budget to compensate Alan Crotzer for spending more than 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Doing the right thing would have required earmarking just $1.25-million for Crotzer in a $71.9-billion spending plan. That would have followed federal guidelines that say people who are wrongly imprisoned should get $50, 000 a year for every year spent in prison.

Senators who blocked the payment to Crotzer cited all sorts of excuses, including financial constraints. That's odd. Legislators had no such qualms about spending a similar amount of money for all sorts of projects they can brag about back home.

A sampling:

- $1-million each: Miami Beach storm water project, Arcadia rodeo complex.

- $1.25-million: Mallory dock improvements in Key West.

- $1.3-million: Las Olas Boulevard streetscape in Fort Lauderdale.

- $1.5-million each: Land and facilities acquisitions for Polk Community College, Citrus County Fairgrounds improvements, Hillsborough County stormwater project, national marketing for Enterprise Florida, rowing training center in Melbourne.

- $1.8-million: Resurfacing Cleveland Street in Clearwater.

- $2-million each: Enhance training and the production of skilled workers to support the construction industry, Highlands County fairgrounds agricultural convention center, military base protection.

There is a slice of the budget pie for virtually everyone and every purpose. But there is nothing for Alan Crotzer, who is still waiting for the state of Florida to do what's right.