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Former inmate McGee adjusting to new life


TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Daily tasks that most take for granted present a challenge for Arvin McGee Jr.

McGee, 39, served 14 years for a rape he didn't commit. He was released from prison last month after DNA tests showed he did not commit the crime.

Since then, daily routines have had McGee on an emotional roller coaster, said his mother, Mary McGee.

``He doesn't know the outside world,'' Mary McGee said. ``He didn't know how to use my phone when he came home. And he's such a man that he's too shy to ask for help. He doesn't want us to think he's dumb because he's not.

``He just doesn't know about these things. He does break down sometimes. He has cried.''

A community celebration for McGee will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. March 16 at the OSU-Tulsa auditorium.

Jack Cowley, a former Oklahoma prison warden, said the public is invited to the event and is welcome to bring items to help McGee begin an independent life.

``What we are concerned about is justice,'' Cowley said. ``You cannot have justice without reconciliation. It's very important for Arvin and his family in order to move forward that the community in which he lives, works and raises his family is aware and demonstrates his innocence. That will assist in his reconciliation.''

Tulsa Community College has offered McGee a two-year scholarship. Langston University in Tulsa has offered a scholarship to help him complete a bachelor's degree after graduating from TCC.

McGee's mother said her son will attend TCC scholarship with his youngest sister.

He dropped out of school as a high school junior, but earned his equivalency degree in prison.

Mary McGee said her son is well-read, does not smoke and goes to church. But she said the shock of modern life and the attention he has received will require therapy.

``He knows he needs counseling,'' she said. ``Anyone locked up that long needs a counselor. And when things start to calm down that will happen.

``He and I talk all the time _ until three or four in the morning. But there are things he might need to tell someone that he can't tell his family.''

McGee met Tuesday with state lawmakers to urge them to pass legislation that would allow him and other wrongfully convicted citizens to seek compensation from the state.

Last year, the Legislature passed a measure to allow innocent citizens who are convicted of crimes to seek compensation from the state. It was vetoed by Gov. Frank Keating.

Keating said he vetoed the legislation because he believes its language was too broad.

Rep. Opio Toure, D-Oklahoma City, has introduced a measure that would permit wrongfully convicted citizens to seek up to $200,000 in compensation from the state.
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