Robert Dewey case inspires bill to compensate the wrongfully convicted
After nearly eighteen years in jail, authorities determined that Robert Dewey did not rape and murder nineteen-year-old Jacie Taylor in 1994. He was released in May of 2012 after DNA testing exonerated him. Now, his case has inspired a new bill that would allow individuals wrongfully convicted to receive compensation from the state.
"This sends two messages," says Representative Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat who is crafting the measure. "One, that we are willing to admit our mistake as a state and compensate someone accordingly.... And two, that we believe wholeheartedly in our justice system...but as a human institution, we recognize that it is not perfect."
The case of Dewey, which we covered last spring, is a clear example of why Colorado needs some sort of legislation that would provide compensation to those wrongfully convicted, Pabon says.
After the 1994 slaying, Dewey was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but he never stopped declaring his innocence, once even saying in trial, "There's still a killer out there."
With new DNA technology, authorities, almost two decades later, determined that he was right: Dewey was released last spring and a man named Douglas Thames was announced as a prime suspect in the case. Mesa County prosecutors formally apologized.
But an apology from officials is not enough, Pabon says.
"We hope that this statute...[would be] used rarely. But that when it is used, we hope that it can make the person whole again, if you can be made whole after an experience like this," says Pabon. "That's the goal of the legislation."
Continue for more details on the compensation proposal.