Innocence Project client Robert Dewey became the first DNA exoneration in Colorado two weeks ago when he was released after DNA testing proved his innocence in a 1994 Grand Junction murder. In the days following his release, Dewey was reunited him with his mother and stepfather and traveled to North Carolina and New York.
But before he regained his freedom he tried to stay optimistic and rely on his family as he fought his wrongful conviction, reported the Daily Independent.
“When you get locked in there whether you’re guilty of the crime or not, you’re in a tunnel and it’s a dark tunnel,” he said. “There’s a little pinpoint of life. I kept trying to get that light brighter and brighter and keep focus and positive, because I knew that I didn’t do it. It was a dark tunnel and there were dark times and there were times it’s like ‘man, is this ever gonna end?’”
One method Dewey relied on was finding a ‘happy place.’ He encourages anyone in prison to do the same – whether it be fishing or spending time with family and children.
“Whatever it is, find that happy place and stay there,” he said. “That’s one freedom they can’t take from you is inside your head.”
“I had that family support system around me. It makes you feel comfortable, more safe,” he said. “It’s real crucial to build that in and out of prison.”
Dewey’s parents would make an annual drive from California to visit him behind bars in Colorado, but sometimes unrelated incidents at the prison would prevent their visits.
Since his release, Dewey says that much in the free world is new to him. He’s experiencing colors differently, since he says the only colors he saw in 17 years were on TV. Everything in prison was grey and blue.
For more about
Robert Dewey’s case
Dewey’s Innocence Project Staff Attorney Jason Kreag writes an
op-ed for The Denver Post