Deena Zimmerman was killed by her boyfriend last year. He’s serving a 45-year prison term. But Sean Dowis is still entitled to receive his state retirement benefits. He’d been a correctional officer in the state for more than 20 years, according to Zimmerman’s mother, Debbie Matthews. She’s urging lawmakers to draft and pass legislation that would prevent him and other such convicted offenders from receiving their retirement dollars if they’d ever worked for the state.
She appeared before Sen. George Gainer and Rep. Brad Drake at their delegation meeting in Marianna Wednesday, seeking a remedy to what she said she learned only through a series of frustrating phone calls and much time in research. It wasn’t commonly known by the many state offices she talked to, she said. According to her, a state employee’s retirement benefits can be revoked in only two circumstances: If they committed a crime on the premises of their workplace, or if they committed a crime against one of their fellow employees. That, she says, needs to change in the case of murder. She suggested that offenders’ retirement money might be put into the Department of Corrections budget, instead, to help that agency.
Both legislators said they supported the idea of legislation that could change the rules, and Drake offered to have staffers put together such a proposed bill.
Other local entities made their own requests of the legislators at Wednesday’s meeting, including Jackson County government, Chipola College and the Jackson County school system. See more on that in an upcoming edition of the Jackson County Floridan.