Tim Masters – Victim or Victor? Every Choice Has A Consequence!

As I rose this a.m. – checking e-mail, CNN – just checking in with the world I was faced with another article on Tim Masters – the Fort Collins, Colorado man who was wrongly imprisoned for 9 years.  This must have been an eternity, especially for an innocent man.  Having spent time in federal prison (justly deserved – as I was guilty), I know that prison can change you.  But, as a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, it wasn’t the wrongful imprisonment that caught my attention, it was the lead line of the article.

CNN’s writer states:  “Tim Masters squarely blames Fort Collins, Colorado, police and prosecutors for his inability to land gainful employment and for his not having a wife and kids at this stage in his life.”  The full CNN article can be found heretim-masters-youth

I know as I type these next words I am opening myself up to both positive and negative comments.  But, sometimes you have to go for it if you expect positive change to take place.  If the article is an accurate portrayal of how Tim Masters feels and thinks, then…

TIM MASTERS is playing the VICTIM role well!

In my experience, some thirteen years following my prison experience, VICTIMS remain such wallowing in self pity and anger.  Anger, self pity, blaming others for their plight, – you name it – just think of victims you know or have known – none of those feelings or emotions are empowering or bring about positive change.

Here are excerpts from the article:

CNN: Do you have trouble finding a job because of your time in jail?

Masters: Yeah, I think that has a lot to do with it. The first thing that comes up on a background check is “charges dismissed — first-degree murder.”

Better questions are Tim – what are you doing to look for employment opportunities?  Do you disclose your background well before the background check?  Do you capitalize on your notoriety garnering understanding for your unfortunate circumstance and give others a chance to reach out a hand to help?

In my experience, being a convicted felon is an obstacle.  But in Tim’s case he was acquitted.  He is innocent and most people can find compassion to give someone in Tim’s circumstance a chance.  I have found employment in both a publicly traded company and private enterprise since prison and I was guilty – unlike Tim.

The article continues:

CNN: If you could talk to the prosecutors or police who handled your case, what would you say to them?

Masters: I don’t want to talk to them at all.

CNN: Talk about your lawsuit against the prosecutors and police. Who does it target?

Masters: Mainly, [former prosecutors, now Judges] Jolene Blair and Terri Gilmore and [Fort Collins police Lt.] Jim Broderick, but there are a few other defendants involved and the city, but in my mind those are the big three.

I do not fault Tim for his lawsuit.  The law is there to protect, which includes protecting someone for their life being permanently altered by incorrect incarceration.  Given similar circumstances, I would likely do the same.  However, I can’t help but wonder if, while that is taking place, Tim could focus his energy toward something that is positive and empowering?

Like what – one might ask?

Every choice has a consequence.  There must have been reasons that Tim was considered a suspect in the first place.  Not that it was his fault, but evaluating those actions (way back then) might prove to be powerful lessons to youth today.    Tim has a powerful story.  He can have an impact.  He will be heard.  The power to reach out to others and help them discover what and/or who they are and how their choices can shape their life is powerful.  timothymasters

I was sad today to read about Tim and where he is.   The tone of the story and answers to the  questions didn’t feel empowering.  They felt, at least to me, that those who falsely imprisoned Tim had won! Tim can have a wife, a family and a great life – it is truly a matter of CHOICE!

VICTIM or VICTOR – Tim the choice is yours!

Comments welcome!

18 Responses to Tim Masters – Victim or Victor? Every Choice Has A Consequence!

  1. Todd Mayers says:

    We have many people looking for jobs that are concerned on what will show up on a pre employment screening background check. In many cases these applicants want to check out themselves first before completing an application incase there is any negative or false information on their record.

  2. Anson G. says:

    Yes, you have a point; as the saying goes: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. I could see Tim becoming a motivational speaker. Is that what he’d want to do? Probably not. Maybe he really would rather sell ‘stuff’ on eBay. But that’s not necessarily his station now in life. Fate may have dealt him a hand that says that now, his destiny is to tell others what he went through.

    Maybe it really is best if he bites the bullet and asks himself: “What really *should* I do now? There is what I *want* to do … but what *should* I do?”

    On the other hand, maybe he’ll win a big fat settlement, and then he won’t need to worry about eBay or motivational speaking or whatever. Not being able to have had a family has got to be something you can valuate (everything has a price). $2-billion? I don’t know, but I suspect it could be quite high.

    I hope he wins something in the area of at least several hundred $-million. Enough to financially ruin the prosecutors and cops. Enough to teach all prosecutors and cops across America: you are not God. Be very, VERY careful what you do when you take a man’s life in your hands. Be careful who you indict, be careful in your investigations and your prosecutions. And if you don’t like it: QUIT.

    We don’t need cops and district attorneys who are incompetent. We need ones who ARE good and committed, and we need to pay them accordingly.

    And we need to punish the rest.

  3. toughen up says:

    Your head has been seriously shrunk. Have you ever heard of the word, “Tyranny?” Do you actually believe that law enforcement = boy scouts?

  4. Anson … I agree that Masters may very well receive a “big fat settlement” but being awarded a settlement doesn’t mean he gets paid. That’s like assuming that those who win lawsuits against Bernie Madoff will every get a dime.

    The real question is Masters attitude. If you act like or talk like a “victim” that’s exactly what you’ll be. On the other hand, Masters has what few others his age have – fame. If he played his cards right he could open doors left and right.

    He could serve as an example for positive change in the criminal justice system, inspire others to use adversity in a positive or productive manner – the list is endless.

    What happened to Tim was terrible and I feel for him. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand his anger. But I also know that the choices he makes today define his future. The past is the past and he can move past it.

    Of course, to do so, he must choose to be a Victor rather than a Victim.

  5. Ron says:

    Tim has all the rights to be angry. He was wrongfully put in jail for nearly a decade during his prime years for christ’s sake. He does not need no permission to be angry from no one! His specialized skills would have landed him a job backed in the military if they are hiring, I suppose. However, in the civilian world and with today’s economy, we can’t expect him to find a full-time job easily. I wouldn’t sit on my high horse and proclaim “I made it!” if I wasn’t in same shoes.

    • Jq says:

      I TOTALLY disagree are yoyu a christian i see you used the phrase “for Christs sake” if so what if Jesus the Almighty said you know what? screw you people wrongfully accusing me or executing me! save yourselves. oh and by the way, it’s not, “he does not need NO permission” the correct way to say/write that would be “he does not need ANY permission” that is horse crap google the successful felons and see how many there are that were guilty and not wrongfully accused. get over yourself ron, be a man…..

  6. Ron – thanks for your comments.

    I never said he didn’t have a right to be angry or that finding a job was easy.

    What I said was that Masters can choose to be a victim or a victor. From the interview he seems to have the victim thing down.

    He has an advantage that I and scores of others never had – HE WAS INNOCENT.

    I talked with a guy on Friday who was in a New York state prison for 25 years. He is a convicted felon and so am I. We both survived and so can Masters – once he see the power of attitude.

    What you speak you attract to you. If you speak like a victim you will be a victim and I don’t know any that achieve substantial success. On the other hand, he won! If he claimed his victory and know from his substantial struggle that he can accomplish anything – HE WILL.

  7. chris says:

    I don’t disagree with what you say, but based on what I’ve read and on the statistics compiled about the exonerated, your views on employability for exonerees – especially those convicted of rape and murder – seem at variance with what many experience.

    The majority of people exonerated of crimes such as murder and rape have a very hard time getting decent employment, even if they are fully up-front about their circumstances beforehand. Some exonerees report getting a job, but then getting fired when fellow employees find out about it. The bosses may know full-well the exoneree was cleared of any and all wrongdoing, but other workers feel uncomfortable – the taint of the accusation follows anyway. Rape victims may still believe the exonerated defendant is the rapist, no matter what the DNA says. Prosecutors may continue to claim the exoneree is actually guilty. This will be reported in the media. And even when all parties agree on innocence, there’s a strong sense in the public of “if the person was in jail, they must have done something wrong.”

    The “power of attitude” goes both ways. An exoneree can be positive and proactive, but against a workforce that still wonders if he’s a rapist or a child murderer, it may not help.

    Add to that the fact that many exonerees are dumped into a world they barely recognize. Parolees are often given education or job training assistance and job placement services; exonerees almost never do, unless they fight for them in court as part of their settlement. And many came from impoverished backgrounds with little or no education in the first place.

    Under these circumstances, our default assumption must be that people wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for many years are unemployable and must be given some sort of assistance, be it financial, educational, or whatever.

  8. Chris – excellent post. I don’t disagree with the assumption that people (innocent or guilty of the crime) should be given some sort of assistance.

    The prison system is, however, a business and that business requires inventory. Masters is unusual in that he was innocent and hence not someone that should be back. On the other hand, it is in the best interest of the “prison business” to recycle their inventory. Providing true rehabilitation means that either the business declines or they (the prison system) has to train new inventory and like a dog – which would you rather have – one that is house trained or not?

    I wish Masters the best! He deserves that. But, I stand by my comment – no one said it is easy – but your expectation (driven by your attitude) determines outcome.

    I know men I served time with who had the attitude that once tainted with the “label” convicted felon – their life was relegated to janitor or some menial task. I never had such an attitude. I believed I could be anything I wanted to be. Hard work and overcoming obstacles lead me to employment and success.

    Masters has the same opportunity if only he will focus his attention and effort in a positive direction.

  9. Kathleen says:

    For heaven’s sake. The man was incarcerated for 9 years for a crime he did not commit. He missed out on his life. He is right to accuse the people who botched the court case. He has a right to be compensated for all of his losses and then some.

    Get off your high horse! You cannot know what he is going through. Ya you were in prison, but you deserved it. He didn’t

  10. Kathleen…thank you for your comments.

    As I’ve said many times, I understand that he missed out on 9 years of his life (as we know it – free). He certainly does have the right to seek compensation for those who botched the case. Agree 100%!

    No I don’t know what he’s going through. Here’s, however, what I do know – the approach one takes to life will in large part determine what you get out of life.

    All I suggest is that Masters look beyond his anger and focus on his future. His future is not destroyed – unless he feels that it is destroyed.

    I met with a group of people that included prisoners this past week. There were two groups represented: (1) those who were back in (behind bars) and (2) those who succeeded.

    Ask them what the difference was? They will tell you – it was their attitude upon release.

    My point – if a convicted felon can succeed so can Tim!

  11. Linda Shinn says:

    Dear Chuck,
    I applaud your positive attitude, and think that possibly you might want to consider trying to contact Mr. Masters personally, and offer him some of your “post incarcurated” experience and encouragement. Purhaps you could help him to see that he will do better if he can let go of his victim mentality and strive more to achieve. Tell him that if he presents his story honestly and openly it could well enspire someone to offer him a job.
    That police DO, I think often due to pressure to make arrest quotas, and to “find the person who did this heinous crime” make many more wrongful arrests than the general public are aware of, is a “FACT” that I am well aware of.
    Years ago the police in our area were under pressure to make drug arrests, and they pulled my son over and told him that he “obviously was a long hair looking to score drugs.” They found a plastic bag of laundry detergent in his back of his truck that they claimed was coccaine and arrested him.
    It was Thanksgivng Day. and he was block from his girlfriend’s house where he had been going, but they would not go there with him where she would have backed up his story.
    They would not smell the perfume odor of the laundry detergent as he suggested.
    They didn’t allow him to call anyone for five hours.
    It went to court where all charges were dropped, “due to lack of evidence.” because it WAS laundry detergent!!!
    But, he ended up with a “record”
    saying that “He had been arrested and charged with possesion and use of drugs, and the charges had been dropped due to lack of evidence.” that affected his life.
    They did everything wrong and he did nothing wrong, but he ended up with a record as a result and people who believed that, “He had to have been using drugs, or they wouldn’t have arrested him, would they?”
    People who have not gone through this experience have no idea how scary it is when you realize that innocent people are arrested and charged and sometimes convicted and then have lifelong records to deal with.
    But, you are still right, that Mr. Masters can still choose to continue to feel that he can never succeed in life because of this, or he can “take charge of his life”, and go as public as he can telling people about what he went through and then asking openly, “Is there someone out there willing to hire me?”
    It is a tough job market right now, and that is a factor I am sure in this.
    Many people are jobless who were never in prison.
    But, he could use the encouragement of someone who has been where he is and managed to achieve success.

  12. Linda Wheeler-Holloway says:

    Hi, I’m the police officer who first tied Tim Masters to the homicide and then worked since his conviction to help win his release. I have contact with him and will send him your comments. I find them insightful and positive for the most part. He definitely has a victor rather than a victim personality and attitute. He will come out on top of his ordeal, but the journey will have its ups and downs. He is not a public speaker and doesn’t like being in the lime-light. But his story is an interesting one and I strongly believe that certain aspects of the criminal justice system will be improved because of what he went through. His 9 1/2 years will not have been spent in vain. Laws on evidence preservation in Colorado are already changing because of his case. Tim has a kind, forgiving heart and strong family values. He is a survivor. The interest the public has displayed on this case is touching.

    • Kelsie says:

      Hello Linda,
      Random I know that someone would post on this years later after this happened, but im currently a 3rd yr studying criminology, specifically a class on wrongful convictions. One of my assignments was reading Tim’s novel, and it touched me that a case like this happened. His case has truly inspired me to become a lawyer in order to help people like Tim to avoid this from ever happening again. I would LOVE if there was some way I could contact him, email, or address would be wonderful. Please let me know, and I can give you my email.
      Thanks in advance,

  13. Kim says:

    I can’t believe you are making assumptions from just a few small snippets of what this man has said. Victim or victor? He was asked specific questions and answered them; it’s not like he went on and on playing the victim which you so blatantly want people to believe. He stated what he believed and he was right to.

    I don’t know Mr. Masters, but I live in Colorado and followed the case closely. These men did more than just wrongfully convict him; they turned an innocent man into a prisoner (lying, cheating and manipulating), turned our justice system into a joke, and allowed a real murderer to go free.

    Now had you supplied more than just one instance where Mr. Masters “played” the victim then I might agree…However, from what I read you have turned into another example of what Masters was trying to fight…someone who wanted to pigeonhole or label him unjustly.

  14. sandy says:

    I hope he sues their asses and wins big. It wouldn’t bother me if this man never had to work another day in his life. He has earned it. It always amazes me in cases like this. Why does the prosecution never admit they are wrong. Or the investigators? Just admit it for Christ sake. We all make mistaks.

  15. jonna clark says:

    I think Lt. Jim Broderick should be fired. He shows no remorse for his substantial part in the some of the shoddiest police work I have ever seen reported. On a 48 Hours Special he even went so far as to credit himself with saving evidence that was later used to exonerate Tim…isn’t that standard operating procedure Mr. Unapologetic Jerk? I wonder how he sleeps at night. Thank God for people Like Ms. Wheeler-Holloway and the others who actually tried to do their job.

  16. Mary says:

    I would just like to say that first, the actual victim in this case is the murdered woman, Peggy, who’s killer is still out there somewhere. Second, if you have not been in Tim’s shoes don’t try to walk in them. I would be pretty “p#@!?d off” myself if I lost several prime years of my life because of some cop that was fixated on bringing down a 15 year old kid and not seeking out all avenues of suspects to focus on. I’m glad for Tim that his injustice turned in to justice. The money that Tim was awarded is not enough, there is no amount of money that is equivalent to the tourmented years spent in prison, especially when you’re an innocent person.

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