More Than a Year After Exoneration, Colorado Man Receives Compensation
More than a year after Robert Dewey was exonerated of a rape and murder he didn’t commit, he received his first compensation payment from the state of Colorado last month. Dewey spent 17 years behind bars before DNA proved his innocence and led to his release on April 30, 2012. His case inspired a new law granting exonerees in Colorado up to $70,000 for every year wrongly spent behind bars for a felony conviction. This amounts to $1.2 million for Dewey.
The first installment came in September and he will receive $100,000 every year until the $1.2 million is paid off, but Dewey told the
that the money doesn’t erase what happened to him. “ ‘It hasn’t brought me peace of mind. It hasn’t brought me closure,’ Dewey said recently, his waist-long hair tied behind him, his goatee longer — and grayer — than in his prison mug shot. ‘It hasn’t made me forget what I went through. Nothing’s going to make that go away.’ ”
Colorado’s compensation law went into effect in June, and Dewey, the state’s only DNA exoneree, is the only person to benefit from it so far. Colorado joins a growing list of states that have a compensation statute. To date, 29 states and the federal government have some form of compensation.
wrote, “Stephen Saloom, policy director of the New York-based Innocence Project, which worked on Dewey’s case, said compensation laws are important because they help the wrongly convicted rebuild their lives. ‘They literally have nothing. Typically they don’t have a home, a car, access to medical care or education. Often, they don’t even know where they’re going to sleep that night,’ Saloom said.”
While Dewey was behind bars, his son died. Dewey was not able to attend the funeral. Although his son’s death continues to haunt him, he has met two of his seven grandchildren and is happy to use his compensation money on them. For the time being, Dewey has budgeted for a year’s rent for his basement apartment in Colorado Springs but he hopes to own his own house in the future.
compensation for the wrongly convicted
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