State lawmakers were afraid of setting a precedent, so they balked for more than a year at compensating Wilton Dedge’s lost years.
Wilton Dedge didn't crack a smile when the Senate voted to approve a $2 million package. But a short time later, the House followed suit with the cash and what Dedge believes is a sincere apology.
“We made a mistake and for that we apologize. And that’s part of the legislation, but nevertheless I think it’s something that you well deserve.”
About the no smile, Wilton Dedge says it is something he is just learning to do again.
“I don’t do it too often. I’m working on it though.”
The money will be tax free. A dependable car and a house are on the wish list as well as helping a family that never lost faith.
“Help my parents out, because my dad spent his retirement for attorneys. Hopefully, it will help me get past it.”
This spring, lawmakers will take up a bill that will speed up DNA testing for those inmates that want it. The bill will also prohibit law enforcement from destroying any evidence as long as the person is still in jail.
Dedge has promised to work for the legislation to help others whom he is convinced are also innocent behind bars.
That $2 million payment works out to about $10 an hour for the time Dedge spent behind bars.