GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Six months after being released from prison and being exonerated from a brutal rape and murder, Robert Dewey is trying to rebuild his life despite not receiving compensation from the state of Colorado.
Dewey’s release, which gained him national recognition in April, is an example of both triumph and tragedy.
At the age of 51, Dewey is learning what it’s like to start over and without the help, education, and skills most people take for granted every day.
“Some people just snap, I just have to laugh it off,” said Dewey while speaking to a Grand Junction criminal justice class.
The lecture, which was hosted in a course taught by his former public defender, served as Dewey’s attempt to provide a sober reminder about the effects of being sentenced to life in prison.
To keep himself from going insane, Dewey said he kept reminding himself of his past experiences on a motorcycle and the freedom he once enjoyed while out on the open road.
“It’s the little things that people take for granted that I tend to hold a lot of faith in," explained Dewey while being asked over a dozen questions by college students who likely were still in diapers when he was first convicted.
The road to rehabilitation is one full of challenges and for which Dewey is still trying to adapt.
Without any compensation from the state of Colorado, Dewey has been forced to live off the generosity of nonprofit groups like the Innocence Project, a group that helps prisoners gain their release by proving their wrongful conviction.
Dewey spent 16 years behind bars. It’s the little things that he is still trying to get used to. Text messages, Facebook, TIVO, are things that never existed when Dewey first went to jail in 1994.
Dewey’s life sentenced barred him from learning computers during his time in the Colorado Department of Corrections, and now he’s being forced to make up for lost time.
“You've got gas, rent, and utilities…and $200 at the grocery store doesn't even barely fill up a basket," he said.
Dewey’s dream is to ride across the nation’s highways but unfortunately without the money, support, and parts – that dream to rebuild a 1980s Harley Davidson is constantly on hold.
In an interview in Colorado Springs, where he’s temporarily living, the exonerated ex-inmate is still paying the price for a crime he didn’t commit.
Currently Colorado law does not require compensation to wrongfully convicted inmates – but Dewey remains hopeful that state lawmakers could change that policy during the 2013 legislative session.
"It’ll be better when I'm riding, I'll be alright then," added Dewey.
If you’re interested in helping Robert Dewey, financially or otherwise, you can contact his attorney directly: