DENVER — After spending eighteen years behinds bars for a murder he never committed, an exonerated inmate is learning how much the state of Colorado will value each year he lost in prison.
Robert Dewey watched as Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a new measure that will help to compensate the 52-year-old and other wrongfully convicted inmates for time spent behind bars.
“I’m an easy going guy, I don’t need a lot,” said the 52-year-old Dewey outside of the Governor’s office.
Under a new law signed into effect on Wednesday, exonerated Colorado inmates will receive $70,000 for each year wrongfully incarcerated, an additional $50,000 for each year on death row, and other assistance in the form of tuition waivers and healthcare from the state of Colorado.
Dewey was released in April of 2012 after DNA tests proved he was not responsible for the death of a Grand Junction woman in 1994.
After being convicted in 1996, Dewey was ordered to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, thanks to the help of the nonprofit group “The Innocence Project,” Dewey was able to secure a DNA re-test to clear his name.
“It’s hard to say how you can compensate someone for the loss of 18 years of their life, especially in a place as terrible as a prison.” said Dewey’s attorney Danyel Joffe.
While the new law went into effect on Wednesday, Dewey still needs to apply for compensation from the state. That process is expected to take several weeks.