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Policy: Labor

State: Wisconsin man held in prison too long shouldn't be paid

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Associated Press,Labor,Wisconsin,Law

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin corrections officials say an inmate doesn't deserve compensation for being mistakenly kept in prison for more than a year after his release date.

Robin Gavinski, 52, is asking the Wisconsin Claims Board for more than $67,000 in compensation for lost wages for spending 417 additional days in prison beyond what his sentence for burglary and other crimes required.

Department of Corrections assistant legal counsel Johnathan Nitt recommends in a document filed with the Claims Board that Gavinski's request for compensation be denied. Nitti concedes that corrections officials made a mistake in calculating Gavinski's sentence, but that he had an obligation to draw attention to the error, WKOW-TV reported Monday.

"However, the claimant and his trial counsel share a significant portion of the responsibility by failing to timely clarify any ambiguity in the Judgment of Conviction, or to correct any mistake made in calculating his sentence," Nitt wrote.

Gavinski's attorney, Tim Kiefer, said his client had no reason to question corrections officials about their calculations and didn't have the resources to investigate any possible discrepancy. Kiefer said the Department of Corrections incorrectly interpreted Gavinski's sentence to include consecutive time in prison, instead of concurrent.

Kiefer also said Gavinski's trial attorney died before Gavinski's sentence was mistakenly extended.

"The prison officials say, 'Here's when you get out.' Who would he have turned to? His attorney was dead," Kiefer said.

Gavinski's case may be included on the agenda of the Claims Board's next meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.

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