Finding Happily Ever After
More than eight years after DNA evidence overturned Dennis Maher’s wrongful conviction, he is now settled into family life in Massachusetts.
Maher was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1984 and spent the following 19 years in prison. Since his release, Maher started a career, got married, had two children and created a new life in a three-story home in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. And he did it by looking forward rather than backward, according to
a profile of Maher in Sunday’s Boston Globe
“I got over losing the 19 years of my life,’’ says Maher, 50, in an even tone. “I don’t try and make up for it because I can’t. The best that I can do is just go forward. Don’t hold the anger.’’
In addition to his job at Waste Management, where he started working one month after his release, Maher speaks publicly at conferences and other events involved with wrongful convictions and the importance of access to DNA testing.
“It’s part of the healing process,’’ says Maher. “I enjoy it.’’
Despite being released into society without any support from the state, Maher eventually received settlements which have allowed him to provide for his loved ones—including fulfilling his mother’s dream of going to Disney World with the entire family.
“I couldn’t say no to her,’’ says Maher. “So I ended up taking 21 people to Disney.’”
Although his family was not in prison with him, Maher knows they suffered the same. But he doesn’t dwell on the past.
“There were a lot of ‘what ifs’ in prison and what if there was no DNA? I’d still be in prison,’’ says Maher. “So I don’t dwell on a lot of ‘what ifs’ and ‘it could’ve been,’ I do mostly here and now. I’m here now, living my life.’’
There is legislation pending in Massachusetts that would require the state to maintain DNA evidence and provide easier access to post-conviction DNA testing that could prove innocence.
Watch an Innocence Project video with Maher above.
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