DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years

DNA X-Ray Diffraction Studies 1953
DNA X-Ray Diffraction Studies 1953

The U.S. needs to abolish the death penalty immediately. And yes, I realize this inmate wasn’t sentenced to death, but obviously the state often makes mistakes, consequently, wrongfully accused people shouldn’t have to lose their life.

Robert Dewey, a Colorado inmate sentenced to life without parole for murder, left jail today a free man after serving 18 years of his sentence. DNA testing, using a technology not available at the time of his conviction, proved he was innocent.

Dewey is the 290th person to be exonerated nationwide on the basis of DNA evidence proving factual innocence — meaning someone else committed the crime.

“I find that Mr. Dewey is factually innocent of the crimes of which he was accused of in this case,” the judge said, noting Dewey had spent more the 6,000 days behind bars. “Mr. Dewey is now again a free man.”

(click here to continue reading DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years – TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime.)

Also, every defendant in capital cases should have access to DNA testing, at trial, not having to wait and fight for 18 years to clear their names…

1 thought on “DNA Testing Clears Colorado Man After Serving 18 Years

  1. John Cutting says:

    If you’ve ever been a pen pal to an inmate in the U.S. prison system (they’re often called “offenders,” by the way), or even if you haven’t been, there’s one thing that will pop out at you in time. One letter leads to another with these folks who have little else to do behind bars other than make up stories about the way they wish things were (often called “lying” by those of us one the outside, and by those of us who don’t have to fantasize daily just to survive the anguish of long-term incarceration).

    Predictably and from one letter to the next, the inmate demonstrates greater and greater levels of freedom and trust in his or her correspondence. They may even confide in you that you are not by their standards, “a good lick” (where that would be the postage stamp that is not wasted on a pen pal who might yield a zero return for the inmate’s investment of time and energy at corresponding via a postal letter to the outside).

    In essence, we have a phrase that encapsulates the prison systems’ imposed mentalities (imposed upon the offenders that is, and even upon the guarding police) – once a criminal, always a criminal. Even in serving their time on the inside, these offenders often become caught up in the myriad, illegal, and debatably immoral money making schemes available to them while “down” in the prison system.

    Why, we might ask? …Why not just serve their time wisely, and then exit the prison system never to return? And possibly leave early, due to good behavior?

    Well, it turns out that the prison systems we have here in the U.S. (and notwithstanding other countries as well, mind you), aren’t called systems for no reason. They are for profit, corporate entities established federally and within each state, and their aim is to generate an economic gain for the local and non local economies. Now exactly the many ways to perceive what is gain, could be anyone’s guess or any District Attorney’s argument – depending on the election year, perhaps.

    Easily imagined in all of this, is the slight evidence or even the major evidence of yes, you guessed it, corruption. But like monetary value of the system itself, what exactly constitutes corruption might be argued differently depending on whether one is considering the perspective of law enforcement, or of the judicial system, or of the District Attorney’s office, or of politicians’ constituencies, etc. Easily stated, is that everyone gets a piece of the pie. And viewed on the surface, it’s no surprise that criminal minds (though incarcerated) are put to the task of figuring out criminal ways to gain money. Criminality is after all, by and large their principle means of self-sufficiency.

    Here in Texas, for example, inmates are not supplied with adequate underwear, shoes, socks, soap, you name it. They occupy very small, very hot and humid spaces – and an electric fan is not supplied by the Warden or his followers. Rather, the inmate must burden family members on the outside, or burden friends with spare money, or find pen pals with proverbial bleeding hearts and disposable income.

    Yes, the inmates are worked like slaves. No, the inmates are not treated humanely. Yes, the inmates are denied privileges and often experience lengthened sentences when they cannot abide by the inhumane and unrealistic rules of the penitentiaries. No, the penning of the prisoners is not geared toward their rehabilitation as valuable members of an outside society. Yes, the offenders often return to prison when upon their release, they have been given no useful outside job skills and must combat the societal stigma of a prison record, and when they have largely been encouraged by a debatably corrupt prison system to for years practice and finely hone their innate and preexisting psychological skills at deceit and self-loathing.

    Yes, it’s a complex system that relies on virtual slave labor — right under our noses. No, the inmates are not happy about it. Yes, the powers that be are of course aware of the many pitfalls and traps their offenders will likely succumb to during imprisonment. No, they don’t benefit by allowing inmates to conduct themselves as human beings in need of psychological or spiritual healing — excepting perhaps during election years, etc.

    And finally yes, it’s a harrowing learning curve.

    But I did manage once to inquire of an inmate here in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) as to why after five years of being eligible for parole, he was still behind bars (in fact, locked down in solitary for the past two-plus years). He replied matter of factly, it was because he had not yet proved to the parole board that he had lined up for himself, any other “qualifying” place to live.

    WTF. You mean you can’t move out of prison because you don’t have a place to move to yet? And this, even though you finished serving your sentence more than five years ago? Really, you were free to leave prison five years ago, but got into additional trouble while incarcerated, and now you’re locked down in solitary with no light at the end of that tunnel? …..the mind boggles, but the answer is a sobering yes.

    The prison system earns money for each and every inmate it can house. The offenders (while not outwardly valued by the policing body of prison guards), are quite valuable within the system. And I hope I will be pardoned so to speak for acknowledging the screwy state of affairs at the uppermost levels and filtering downward from there by suggesting, it is hoped for and anticipated that any offenders who do manage their release (even if months or years later than originally sentenced, due likely to “bad behavior” while surviving on the inside) will ultimately succumb to the pressures of reentering a society that has moved on in their absence.

    Remember that old inmate in Shawshank Redemption who finally made it out after all those years on the inside? Yes, I mean the one who killed himself due to the pressures of not fitting into outside society.

    What must it be like? ….While it is no answer to the many-fold problems of prison systems in modern societies, empathy remains a powerful tool. I have no answers per se, but then again I do. Unfortunately, my solutions require the energy of a human heart to be activated and enacted. In fact, what’s required might be the energy of many human hearts, and perhaps all of them. That said, it seems like we simply aren’t there yet spiritually. Prisons and their prisoners are removed from our consciousness (and from our sight) and relegated to the whims of a political elite, like it or not.

    Meanwhile, the greatest remedy for incarceration is avoidance because once part of the system, you’re a highly valued commodity. And the system will go to great lengths to ensure your lengthiest stay. Not the least of which great lengths could be arguably, the DA’s Office will knowingly prosecute you falsely and have you pay dearly for a crime you may not have committed – in order to extract payment from you for the many, many crimes that perhaps you did commit, but for which you cannot be prosecuted.

    Morally correct or not, it is a form of justice. Just not the legal form of justice.

    These things said, if one has managed to avoid entering the prison system. Well, keep up the good work because once they have your name and number – you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And you will pay and pay and pay for your crimes, plus find someone on the outside to help you pay even more. Soap costs money, and money comes from outside. What a man will do to his pen pal brother for a hot shower, is revert to his criminal behavior and finely tune it. Clearly, lying and cheating are not punishable offenses, unless there is something to be gained in the pursuit of such wrongdoing.

    But what do I know. Justice is blind, right? And my answers don’t support the current paradigm of bottom-up slave labor, and top-down spiritual disempowerment. Human predation is never a harmless joke, hardly ever considered illegal, and most often exists only in the eye of the beholder. Law is arbitrary and changes annually in pursuit of the greatest sources of funding. The human heart on the other hand, is an arbitrator of truest laws. The heart works tirelessly and often for a seeming pittance.

    Follow your heart. Imaginably, it will steer you clear of the prison systems, and for good reason. Prison is no place to call home.

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