A man who was exonerated after spending 37 years in prison for a rape and a murder that he did not commit has been denied compensation for his wrongful conviction.
Robert Duboise, 55, was jailed in 1985 and despite claiming his innocence for the next 37 years, he was not released until August 2020, according to local media reports.
He subsequently sued the city of Tampa, four police officers and a forensic dentist who testified that his teeth matched bite marks on the victim. The dentist, named as Dr Richard Souviron, also testified in the trial of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.
But Duboise has been denied compensation due to a legal loophole, according to local media outlet WJHG.
The local media outlet reports that a person who has been wrongly convicted cannot be compensated if they have spent time in prison for prior offences.
This was the case with Duboise, who had spent some time in prison for previous convictions, which the local media outlet specified had been non-violent.
There is reportedly an effort underway to change the law in the state of Florida so that compensation does not only go to people with clean records.
Under Florida’s current laws, people who been wrongfully convicted are entitled to compensation to the tune of USD 50,000 per year spent behind bars.
This would mean that Duboise, if he did not have a prior conviction, would be entitled to USD 1.85 million in compensation.
But Duboise, who makes packed lunches to help feed the homeless, is staying positive, saying simply: “You have to.”
The local media outlet reported that in 2020, lawmakers waived the clean record requirement for Clifford Williams, who had been wrongfully imprisoned for 43 years for a murder he did not commit either.
Speaking about what he would do if the same effort were made regarding his case, Duboise, who currently works as a handyman to make ends meet since his release, replied: “I would get me a house, which I’ve never had, and just concentrate on the future. Invest, and just keep pushing forward.”