tv Real Money With Ali Velshi Al Jazeera February 12, 2015 3:30am-4:01am EST
paradise could save reefs worldwide. steve chow, al jazerra in the coral triangle. steve chow reporting. go to our website for more on that and the rest of the day's news aljazerra.com. life? it's a topic a lot of shows won't touch but we're going there in depth. first, we're speaking to a man spending years on death row, for what? nothing. >> i was a young black kid who life didn't mean anything to the system. >> then i'll talk to ken fineberg, he's in charge of the highest compensation case cases, including the gm recall and the boston bombing.
then coming together in a last ditch effort in ukraine. and the man whose name you rarely here, moscow's justification for war. this is "real money"," i'm ali velshi. what is the value of a human life? in some ways that's a question with no satisfying answer. but it's a question that must be answered, after terror attacks like 9/11 or after fatal accidents like those caused by gm's faulty ignition switches. these tragedies force a modern society to make a cold calculation of what a human life is in monetary terms. in the case of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, families of victims received an average of $2.1 million. that's an average.
families of victims with low salaries, got as little as $250,000, whereas families with highly paid victims received over $7 million approximately that is an example of what value is placed on human life. people who lost two lims in limbs in the boston bombing got 2 million, those who lost one limb got one million. i'm going to press ken fineberg on the like logic behind calculations. how society puts a value on the hundreds of men and women who have been wrongfully sent to prison. the sad truth is that some barely self an apology, duarte geraldino has the story of one man's struggle for being sent to
death row for a crime he didn't commit. >> the person just didn't seem real. actually being on death row, i was a kid. >> it's been more than 15 years, and slifs sharif kasin can't shake the louisiana prison life. >> i need space. i don't like to be closed in. >> he was in high school when he first made headlines. charged with first degree murder. 16 when he learned he was to be strapped into a cot and, in front of state-selectwitnesses, injected with a lethal cocktail that would kill him. the attorney for sharif kuzan says he has uncovered proof that the 16-year-old could not have committed the april murder -- >> sharif remembers the
prosecutor being so sure of himself. >> he's pointing to me like he's an animal, he doesn't deserve to be live, we need to kill him. we need oto return a verdict of death. >> in 1979, sharif was exonerated of first degree murder but since he committed another crime he spent other years in prison before he was released. >> i was in for over two years. >> for the years he was wrongfully on death row, required a lot of paperwork, lawyers, luck and a lot more time than he could afford. >> $15,000 a year and if you average it out, it's like $7 and some cents an hour. and i'm like i'm not about to file for that. $7 an hour what am i for 7 an hour.
i'm telling people i don't want it, i've got my own life together. >> sharif is 36 years old, is a father and has a job helping newly released prisoners. >> abcdefg. >> but sometimes has trouble quieting his inner demons. >> where i can get mental health services that you know i think i need. >> sharif is just one of hundreds of exonerees, the innocence project represents 325 people freed because of dna evidence. >> between civil settlements and statutory compensation, i think about 25% of our clients have received compensation, after
protracted litigation. >> this speaks to a broader problem: how little american society values lives like his. >> it wasn't we're going to lock sharif up. i was a young black kid who life didn't mean anything to the system. there are 1,5 50 known exonere rvetions. many have had run in its william law before being rightfully convicted. >> i was 13, stealing video games. >> 17 states, most pay between 25 and $50,000, almost a middle class wage but not always enough to jump start a life. >> while in prison it wasn't
like i was able to get like a trade. >> 20 states have no compensation laws. to get paid after spending years looking through bars and finances fences exonerated individuals have to file suit. they have to believe that both police and prosecutors intentionally committed misconduct. and in many states, if the charges led to him getting in prison he gets nothing. almost 90% of the cases never go to trial. they are settled with plea deals and the defendants hope for leniency. >> you contributed to your own wrongful conviction by falsely confessing, therefore you are exempt for compensation. >> while states have made progress andersoning compensation, the laws are unevenly. >> it is evidence of a system
that is picking and choosing who they want to apologize to. >> the state lawmaker wesley t. bishop helped to . >> money to provide health care for our children and for our seniors, money for our economic centers, money for our senior citizens. there's never enough money to do what we need to do. >> for sharif it's never been just about the money. he sees the value of his own life in his infant son's eyes but also, aware sharif judge are jr. is growing up in a world that sublimb eighth
sublimates life. >> they are rather intimidated by the situation, it would be years to get to that point or they fall through the cracks some loophole some classification that makes impossible to get to that point. he pled guilty to other charges so while he was in jail awaiting trial for first degree murder he was accused of armed robbery. his lawyers said look you decide which battle you want to fight. i encourage you to plead guilty to the lesser charge and he did he was exonerated from murder -- >> but not the other. >> exactly. >> the mental demons he has got, the health care he thinks he wants? >> in texas, for example you get
health care but in sharif's case it was the luck of the draw. he's in a state that doesn't provide that. texas provides 80 thousand a year for compensation, they give you free education afterwards because they exonerate so many more people. they imprison so many people. >> thank you duarte geraldino for that graik great story. right after this i'll talk to attorney ken fineberg about how he calculates what a human life is worth. we're back in just two minutes. >> the death toll could be much higher than anyone'd known. >> posing as a buyer to get in there. >> 10,000 people are already dead mr. president, who should answer for those people?
to do with $7 an hour, what is my life worth $7 an hour. >> you heard that in duarte geraldino's story. a subject that's part of a much broader question about how to put a dollar amount on a human life after accidents, crimes and terror attacks and there's no one, no one more qualified to explain and defend how that's done in america than my next guest. ken fineberg was special master in the 9/11 case, and the special master in the bp gulf case, just a partial resume. he wrote the book, what is life
worth? he joins us from washington, d.c. ken thank you so much for being >> pleasure. >> this is such a complicated, complicated, highly emotionally charged issue. you've done it many times. tell me the first course of action you go through, when death. >> first of all, how much money you have to distribute everything flows from that. if you don't have a pot of money available to compensate innocent victims you're not going to get very far. in the 9/11 fund congress provided by law an unlimited amount. >> right. >> whatever it takes, distribute whatever's fair and reasonable and just. bp unlimited, they said 20 billion, more than enough. gm, whatever it will take, to make innocent victims who are eligible whole.
so you start with knowing the amount of money that's available for distribution. >> let's talk about the basic legal principle that is used here in the united states. in most of the cases that you've dealt with. and in most of the world. and that is, that regardless of the punitive and the part of it that you think is about making right, a wrong, often the calculation has something to do with the person's earning potential, what they would have earned, had they not died. >> that is exactly correct. in every court in this country throughout the nation, courts ask the very same questions in determining the value of a lost life. one: what would the victim have earned, work life over a lifetime of work. but for the tragedy. second: add to that number some amount for pain and suffering of
the victim, the emotional distress visited on the survivors, equals a net number and that is the number that is calculated. >> have you ever had -- struggled with the philosophical conversation that says you know, is that fair in death, that lives are worth different amounts based on what people earned as opposed to other measures of the value of a life, like being someone's father or daughter or husband or wife? >> every single day you run into that emotional hurricane. mr. fineberg, you're giving me $2 million for the death of my husband, who was a firearm at the world trade center. a hero. yet you're giving my next door neighbor $3 million because his wife was a banker or a stockbroker. you never even met my husband.
that doesn't sound very fair or just to me. and you run into that emotional problem every single time you do programs. >> there is a distinction, you program. there is a distinction between some instances where you give people money and they have the right to sue, versus those where you give people money and they do not have the right to sue. what's the distinction? >> that's a critical distinction. in 9/11, bp, gm, three of the cases you mentioned, in order to get the money from a fund, you waive your right to litigate. you give up your right to go to court. in one fund boston, virginia tech, aurora, colorado newton newtown, connecticut, in those funds all
deaths are equal. you don't have to make distinctions among the dead because you're not asking people to give up their right to litigate. those are private donated funds that are a gift to the survivors. >> you just heard duarte's story where this guy said what the likely outcome would be if he had to do everything necessary to claim recovery from the state of louisiana, he wants to get on with his life. i know you haven't dealt with wrongful convictions, it hasn't done with the money you have earned, you are so far set back convicted. >> that is a public policy situation, sometimes people say to me, mr. fineberg, my son died in oklahoma city, where's my check? you'll have to ask the congress or the legislature in oklahoma why they've decided not to create a special compensation
program just for certain victims who are innocent. >> ken fineberg, always a pleasure to speak to you. the special master on many funds. coming up next, peace talks, 20 people dead today in new fighting in eastern ukraine, russian and ukrainian liters are trying to hammer out a n agreement. minutes.
>> heavy fighting continued in eastern ukraine but a handshake you'd miss if you weren't really looking for it is a hope that a ceasefire would be made in the deadly conflict. very quick. russian president vladimir putin and ukrainian president petro poroshenko. down playing the chacheses of anychances of anysort of break through. any hope to last ditch effort to halt the conflict that have killed 5,000 even more?
>> you're right, there's not a huge lot ever optimism. if you are going to draw optimism from anything, draw it from the fact they are all here, all sitting together, and all talking to each other. it's been a long not so far of negotiations has been taken up many hours. at one point, sergey lavrov the russian foreign minister, took a break, spoke to journalists, they asked him how it was going, his reply, super. they asked him to clarify what he meant, better than super. there is a possibility that these talks may not culminate on thursday night, maybe go into the next morning.
>> the americans have not ruled that out, there is some talk that the white house is preparing some legislation unclear where that will go clearly they're thinking about it as a last resort. but does the idea of the west in some fashion tarming ukrainians change the dynamic where you are? >> absolutely yes. it would, it would turn this from a situation in which the west likes to think that it is broadly offering support to ukraine on a diplomatic and economic front, onto which the west would give ukraine help on a military front as well. that would not go down well on moscow, moscow has always accused the west of fomenting this situation. that the ukrainian crisis as a whole wouldn't have happened if the west hadn't encouraged what
they call a coup, an armed coup in kiev that kicked out the former president and inspired the separatists in the east of the country to stay up arms. -- to take up arms. so russia would clearly not view this well at all. on a wider wider nato front, this is not something nato would do on a whole. what nato is saying is if any countries within the alliance wanted to give military assistance to ukraine they would have to do it individually, not as part of a greater alliance-wide move. >> okay that is useful analysis and context for us, for the rest of our conversation. rory challenge will be there for us, rory thank you very much. here to shed light on russian president vladimir putin's intentions at the minsk summit, institute of democracy and cooperation, a pro-moscow think tank. he denounces petro poroshenko as
a butcher and calls ukraine a failed state that can never become member of nato and the eu. if these sentiments are true the minsk conference is going nowhere. >> a couple of years ago in syria fighting was going on, everybody in washington considers us as a butcher -- assad as a butcher because he's killing his people. according to russian sources 50,000 killed already in this country and nobody even raising a word condemning petro poroshenko that he's a butcher why the standards? >> we are hearing numbers of 5,000 dead in eastern ukraine.
>> as you know, a couple of days ago, that was surprising information about 50,000. but of course i think the number of losses are much higher than 5,000. maybe not 50,000 but 15, 20,000 it's quite possible. >> what is the goal? is the struggle that we've had about these minsk talks, what is supposed to happen? what's the best outcome here? are we looking for another ceasefire? we used to have a ceasefire and that ended. what does russia want out of these conversations in minsk? >> listen, russia's strategic goal is very clear. special status for these territories. and they will not only these territories, luhansk and donetsk, odessa novaracia, or east-south of the country, where russian speakers are living. they
demand more autonomy -- >> that russian desires to extend its umbrella of support territories. there is some encouragement coming from the russian government. >> that's true. but the problem is i think every great country and great power like united states, france great britain they are of course always ready to protect americans, you know, or british -- >> but america has no enclaves anywhere where it extends production to a group of people. >> but every american citizen abroad is the subject of american protection. >> not russian citizens in eastern ukraine. >> that is another problem because we lived for centuries inside unified country. soviet union and russian empire which means these borders are arbitrary drawn borders. borders.
>> it is one thing to agree but when you are forcing them to foresight their language, their identity this creates attention. this is normal. >> so russia wants the ability to have its own people, its russian speakers experience, in the place they live, what about ukraine's right to self determination, to become member of eu, not even on the table, to join forces with europe? >> russia doesn't have any problems with this. >> it did under the administration in ukraine. >> no no no no no. we had a long lasting debate on all these issues. i was involved, not the last one the previous one where putin explained very lengthy, what is russia's position. you want to go to eu, welcome. it's your problem. but you have to take into account that you are making the decision. and you have to take the burden of responsibility.
which means, you have to know very well that no discount prices for energy, resources which we are supplying to you. first. second: you -- we are the big eu trading partner and russian market is 40% of your product. which means we are going to close the market for you because you are joining to eu, we don't want eu goods to come through ukraine to russia. be ready for this kind of problem. >> that's now hurting the russian economy as well. >> that is another problem. it might be hurting might be that is reciprocity. but ukraine is more hoping on russia than russia is dependent on ukraine.
>> that is our show for today, the hopes of a peace deal for ukraine butt country's president petro poroshenko is reportedly objecting to russian conditions. ♪ ♪ good to have you with us her on al jazerra, i am david foster. also coming up in the next 30 minutes. >> our coalition is on the offensive. isil is on the defensive. and isil is going to lose. >> u.s. president looking for congressional backing to step up military operations against isil isil. the retrial of two al jazerra journalists accused of colluding with the