The “I”s still have to be dotted, the “T”s crossed and the ink has to dry, but Wilton Dedge could soon be paid about $10 for each hour he wrongfully was kept in prison.
The House and Senate each had the Dedge compensation bill on their calendars. The $2 million package also sends Dedge to a state college free of charge.
Two million dollars is a lot of money for anyone to have at one time, but Dedge’s lawyers are quick to point out that he never had the chance to buy a house or make any other investment that would have grown over 22 years.
House Sponsor John Quinones says justice is being done.
Rep. John Quinones, (R) Orlando, says, “I feel that we have certainly done the right thing, have basically acknowledged the fact that he was wronged.”
The irony is that 16 of the 22 years behind bars could have been avoided. Lawyer Sandy D'Alemberte says the state made plenty of mistakes.
Sandy D’Alemberte says, “He got out in ’04 after 22 years and 16 years after he had asked for DNA tests and three years after the first DNA test had shown he was not connected to evidence which had been used by the prosecution against him.”
The bill could reach the governor on Thursday
As part of the compensation, the deal is being structured so that Wilton Dedge won’t face another insult, the insult of having to pay taxes on money compensating him for his lack of freedom.
Back in the spring session, Dedge's attorney had been asking for $5 million in compensation, but lawmakers have decided $2 million is as high has they'll go.