Dedge Will Be Compensated

by TChris

TalkLeft has frequently written about Wilton Dedge, who spent 22 years in Florida prisons for a rape he didn't commit. The Florida legislature finally did the right thing by passing a bill that awards Dedge $2 million as compensation for his mistaken incarceration.

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    Re: Dedge Will Be Compensated (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:48 PM EST
    If only Pennsylvania would follow Florida's example (I can't believe I just wrote that). Thomas Doswell spent almost 20 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit and was recently exonerated by DNA testing.
    He said that when he finally was released from jail, he had no money and "I didn't even get bus fare. No one even said, 'We're sorry for what happened to you, Tommy.' "
    Paroled prisoners in PA get more help than those who are exonerated.
    But it's hard for Mr. Doswell to find a job because he still has a criminal record, which needs to be erased so he can get on with his life, Mr. Saloom said. "When you're released from prison after spending years there, you don't even have money to pay the electric bill, let alone to hire an attorney to expunge your record," added Mr. McGeehan. Former state Attorney General Ernie Preate was also at the news conference, and said it's important for someone such as Mr. Doswell to have his false imprisonment removed from his record. "Tommy still carries his criminal history. That has to be changed. When he goes for a job, that will come up," Mr. Preate said.
    This is an abomination of justice in PA. It is completely unacceptable that someone exonerated of a crime does not have their criminal record of that crime automatically wiped clean. A bill has recently been introduced to compensate people who have been exonerated...
    But approval of the compensation bill is by no means assured. Mr. Ferlo said some of his Senate colleagues "just shrugged their shoulders" when asked to support it. Some legislators fear they could look "soft on crime" if they vote for such a bill to give money to freed prisoners.
    I would like to know how a legislator could be viewed as "soft on crime" by giving support to a bill that provides compensation to exonerated prisoners. In other words, people who were imprisoned by the State and denied freedom for a crime they did not commit. If you live in PA, please contact your legislator and support this bill.

    Re: Dedge Will Be Compensated (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:49 PM EST
    Thanks for that, macroman. Same is true about my client, Nick Yarris, who was exonerated from PA's death row after 23 years -- more than two years ago. Put out with nothing but his family to rely on. TL has written about him several times. Nick's story as well as Wilton Dedge's are told in the current Sundance-winning movie, "After Innocence."

    Re: Dedge Will Be Compensated (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:49 PM EST
    Peter G, I am familiar with and have followed the story of your client. On a side note, Nick's case is exactly why the Streamlined Procedures Act is bad legislation.

    Re: Dedge Will Be Compensated (none / 0) (#4)
    by roy on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:50 PM EST
    It'd better be tax-free. Otherwise he'll pay about $680K just in federal income tax, bringing the compensation down to $60K per year in prison. Considering no opportunity to invest income over 22 years, and lost future earning power due to having 22 years less work experience than his peers, $60K/year is a pittance. The $91K/year he'd get if he can skip taxes still wouldn't "make things right", but it seems decent in a purely financial sense.

    Re: Dedge Will Be Compensated (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:50 PM EST
    There's a tax break everyone should support, roy.

    Re: Dedge Will Be Compensated (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:50 PM EST
    Good point Roy. What a rip off it would be to have to pay taxes to the feds after receiveing compensation from the state for this travisty of justice. Any tax attonnys out there know how this might work? I hope the guy get the whole 2M AND some decent advice on how to invest it. I also hope he gets a big fat book and movie deal. As a Floridian, as small a jesture as it is, I am, personally, sorry for what he has gone through.