After 16 years kept wrongfully behind bars, Robert “Rider” Dewey of Colorado survives on $698 a month in Social Security payments and much-appreciated donations from members of the public. He has no access to credit or to vocational training. His exoneration in April for a 1994 rape and murder united unlikely allies across the legal community, both to set free an innocent man and in the call for compensation for those who’ve been wrongly convicted, the Denver Post reports.
State Rep. Angela Williams wants to put in place some sort of safety net that includes counseling, job training, help accessing public benefits, and money to compensate men and women for their lost years. Colorado is one of 24 states that offer no financial compensation to people such as Dewey on their release. Model legislation circulated by the Innocence Project — the organization that played a major role in both exonerating Dewey and providing him post-release support — would offer state benefits to a much broader variety of convicted individuals. People who get pardons and those freed because of misconduct by prosecutors would qualify under their template.