The New York Times profiles Robert Dewey, 52, exonerated 10 months ago after 18 years in prison in Colorado for a rape and murder he didn’t commit. Dewey's release is among a few high-profile exonerations that are now prodding Colorado to confront the question of what it owes inmates who have been falsely imprisoned, a civic soul-searching that Louisiana, Texas, Illinois and other states are also confronting. Colorado is one of 23 states that have no system to compensate the wrongfully convicted.
It does not provide a formal network of counseling, education or other assistance, which advocacy groups like the Innocence Project say aggravates an already difficult transition back to civilian life. A bill in Colorado's statehouse would change that, granting $70,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment, plus tuition waivers at state colleges. It passed an early legislative test last week, with unanimous support from the state’s House Judiciary Committee. “We have a responsibility to make this injustice a justice,” said state Rep. Angela Williams, a Democrat from Denver who is championing the measure. “You lose everything. You're starting from scratch. How do you save money? How do you invest?”