Photo: Exoneree Robert Dewey riding with friend Lara McClearen.
Innocence Project client Robert Dewey was released from Colorado’s Mesa County Courthouse on April 30 after DNA testing proved his innocence in a 1994 Grand Junction murder. Six months later, Dewey survives on Social Security payments, assistance from the Innocence Project’s Exoneree Fund, and donations from members of the public, reported the
Dewey’s release marked the first DNA exoneration in the state and sparked a conversation about compensating the wrongfully convicted. Presently, Colorado is one of 23 states without a compensation statute, but Rep. Angela Williams hopes to change that. According to the
Rep. Angela Williams, a Denver Democrat who’s gathering opinions from prosecutors and defense-minded advocates, is still working to hammer out the more controversial details of the bill she’ll sponsor when the state legislature convenes in January.
“Everyone believes this is the right thing to do,” Williams said. “The easy part of this is deciding ‘What do we give them?’ The hard part is figuring out all the different scenarios that could happen in a court room” and who counts as “wrongfully convicted.”
The Innocence Project’s model legislation for a state compensation bill provides monetary compensation to people who have been wrongfully convicted because of actual innocence, whether exonerated through DNA testing, or pardoned, or through some other means.
Innocence Project’s model legislation