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 here.
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.
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!