Robert Dewey case inspires bill to compensate the wrongfully convicted


If the bill passes, funding will come from the general fund and would require appropriation from the legislature through the joint budget committee, Pabon explains.

Dan Pabon, John Hickenlooper.jpeg
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Dan Pabon at the State Capitol
An individual wrongfully convicted would have to go through a specific judicial process to determine eligibility for the fund, he adds. It would be available only to those who are actually found to be innocent -- and not just individuals who weren't convicted due to a technicality, for example.

Pabon is still finalizing the details of the proposal, but he says if individuals were approved to access these funds, they would receive the equivalent of an annual salary for each year wrongfully spent behind bars. The payment wouldn't be a lump cash offering, but given on an annual basis going forward.

robert dewey mug shot.jpg
Old mug shot of Robert Dewey
"We're in the minority of states who don't have this...and I think this is gaining more recognition," Pabon says, adding that for an individual like Dewey, "He's coming out of prison. He's got no job skills, no real training. He's free but penniless, and the likelihood of finding gainful employment in any meaningful way...that's gonna help him move forward with his life is extremely difficult."

A group called the Innocence Project says that 27 states have some form of compensation statute. Colorado does not -- and Pabon believes this is the first time a lawmaker here has proposed such legislation here.

"There's broad, bipartisan support for both the idea and the mechanism," he says. "Like anything else in the legislature, the devil is in the details."

Pabon says he and his co-sponsor are talking to a wide range of criminal law experts to "make this the best bill possible...with the ultimate goal, of course, of saying sorry for something that never should have happened."

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Heather Jensen arrested in deaths of two children left in up to 145 degree heat"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.


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44 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Has everyone already forgotten Tim Masters ?

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Masters makes a much better 'poster-child' or representative for the bill . He isn't one of those 'wanna-be' white-trash-bikers, as is the case w/ Dewey .

Ross Sherwood
Ross Sherwood

YES...YES...YES...doesnt matter why, how, who, when...money talks...and if there is misconduct the prosecutors should face punishment too...

D.c. Small
D.c. Small

If the prosecution did something wrong, then yes. If the State acted in good faith upon evidence that they had (ie, did not hide evidence or wrongfully ignore evidence that did not support their case), then no.

Chris Rixman
Chris Rixman

How do you compensate for 18 years lost. Education lost seniority at a job lost. Family lost memories never realized they will never give hi, enough money to mitigate a stupid legal system. It is a wretched system of justice

Kendall Thiessen
Kendall Thiessen

Absolutely. Wrongfully had your liberties taken away, your reputation tarnished and lost wages? Yes. Give the state a second thought when they have a weak or circumstantial case.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

Absolutely. And those who were responsible for the wrongful conviction should assist with the payments. Perhaps this would put them in a position to be more cautious with the decision-making process.

Melissa Durgin
Melissa Durgin

Yes. Partly to make up for the fact they are unemployable.

Greg Squigy Markel
Greg Squigy Markel

the taxpayers should be just as compensated because its our money keeping them in there

David Court
David Court

It's hard to compensate for time(the most precious commodity) but a large sum of money would be a great start.

Tara Chavez
Tara Chavez

Hell yea, wrongfully accused are innocent people that had to pay for crimes that were not done by them. Think of the true innocent behind bars, their freedom takin away from them. When the real piece of crap is out here still doing dirt. Money can't give them back their life or the remove the memory of jail/prison! Not to mention the embarrassment! I believe they did the time, pay them. It was the state that wrongfully locked them up, so the state needs to pay for it's mistakes. Just like everyone else in this world.

Betsy Peterson
Betsy Peterson

Robert with your spirit all that is good will come to you.

Betsy Peterson
Betsy Peterson

There are many negative people like Wayne out there and such postive people like Robert.

Betsy Peterson
Betsy Peterson

I removed my comment for that Wayne guy based on watching a interview with Robert Dewey. Robert seems to have found peace with what has happened to him.

Jeremy Hull
Jeremy Hull

Hell yes! Usually they are wrongfully convicted due to negligence at least, incompetence normally, and malice at worst. Our system is broken.

David Frazer
David Frazer

Might make prosecutors a little more careful, and unless the defendant has money like OJ Simpson, the prosecution has all the advantages.

Kris Montoya
Kris Montoya

YES!!!!They can't ever get back those years and tears that they have lost!

Conrad Luethy
Conrad Luethy

yes i do i have so much rage built up inside because of being thrown in jail many times and found innocent i sit up at night sometimes and it just eats at me i feel like i wanna snap

Betsy Peterson
Betsy Peterson

I agree with Ken the final ppl that put him in there should have their wages garnished to help with the funds

Samuel Walter
Samuel Walter

Yes, a person who has been unjustly dragged through the judicial and penal process, and had their life and family taken from them, should definitely be monetarily compensated. Nothing will give them back what was taken but, at the least, the prosecution needs to be subject to punitive measures, and the person deserves retribution.

Anna Gingher
Anna Gingher

Life isnt fair??? are you serious?! have fun being thrown in jail for no reason you moron and then we'll all laugh and say "haha! Life's not fair!" of course you should be compensated.

Derek Dwreck Wynn
Derek Dwreck Wynn

When guilty before proven innocent changes.... that will as well.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Dewy could afford meth for life !!!

freetheplant
freetheplant

$1,000,000 for ever year served for the innocent incarcerated, exempt from being taxed, but not likely. I remember one episode years ago on  A & E , Investigative Reports with Bill Curtis, a Texas death row inmate was found not guilty after 5 years and his compensation was added up to minimum wage for those 5 years. Talk about a slap in the face. True compensation for the wrongfully convicted who have spent years in prison and can never get those years back should be enough money that they shouldn't ever have to work again. Hell, at the least they should get a house paid for and exempt from state and local property taxes for life. There have even been a few cases where the wrongfully convicted were later found innocent by DNA tests but because they took a plea deal during trial , made them ineligible for any time in the future to file compensation claims for wrongful convictions, meaning they have no hope to gain any financial award whatsoever for the rest of their life. The judicial system in the US has to be the most corrupt and twisted in the world.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

The compensation should include that the PROSECUTOR and LYING COPS be required to FORFEIT their SALARY and FREEDOM for an equivalent number of years !!


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@D.c. Small ... may you spend the majority of your life in prison, wrongfully convicted, and receive no compensation whatsoever.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Betsy Peterson ... and the prosecutors and cops and judges should have their FREEDOM garnished too -- day for day -- for those innocent people they prosecute and incarcerate.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Wayne DeNucci ... may ALL of Life's unfairness settle upon you and your family.


gruckee
gruckee

@DonkeyHotay should be a mandatory component of any such legislation for sure - sometimes I think your posts are coming from my keyboard!

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