Wrongfully Sent to Prison in Colorado? You Could Soon get a Payday, When You’re Released
Coloradans wrongly convicted could soon start seeing a payday, when and if they are exonerated. This week a bill is set to be introduced in the state legislature sparked by the Robert Dewey case.
Last year Robert Dewey was finally freed from prison where he spent 18 years after being wrongly convicted of the murder of a woman in Palisade, Colorado. Now state representative Dan Pabon, a Democrat from Denver, Colorado and two fellow Democrats plan to introduce the bill that could compensate the wrongfully convicted.
The wrongfully incarcerated could potentially see up to $60,000 a year for every year they spent in prison, when they didn't belong there. That comes out to about $167 for each day spent behind bars. Dan says the intent of his bill is more than a payday for those convicted and sent to prison, it's also a last resort for when the justice system fails.
Robert Dewey was freed last year when Mesa County prosecutors said new DNA evidence pointed to the new suspect, Douglas Thames. Thanes is already in prison for a similar crime in Fort Collins. He lived near Palisade murder victim Jacie Taylor at the time of her murder.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger is in favor of the bill, but is concerned with how it is written. Mostly because how in it's current form it defines an 'innocent person' and what compensation the wrongfully convicted receive. Hautzinger says, “I don’t want them to both sue the government and everybody else in sight, and collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Legislature."
The bill includes provisions to keep those wrongfully convicted from receiving money from the proposed program as well as additional lawsuits. It also includes measures to provide money for college tuition for the wrongfully incarcerated so they can get their lives back on track.