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Compensation denied for man wrongfully incarcerated for 37 years

Under Florida law, anyone wrongly convicted seeking compensation must have a clean record

After 37 years behind bars, a Florida man was formally cleared Monday of a 1983 rape and murder that DNA evidence proved he did not commit after a long-ago trial that relied on a sketchy jailhouse informant and faulty bite mark analysis.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A man who spent 37 years in state prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit is also being barred from being compensated for his wrongful conviction.

Efforts are underway to eliminate or bypass the so-called “clean hands” provision that bars compensation if there had been previous convictions.

Robert Duboise, 55, has been walking the halls of the state Capitol, seeking compensation for 37 years he spent behind bars after it was ruled a wrongful conviction.

Duboise has maintained his innocence the entire time.

“You just got to keep your faith. That’s what it’s about. You’ve got to have patience. It’s easy to get in there, but it’s hard to prove your Innoncence once you’re in,” said Duboise.

His problem is that he had previously been sent to prison for nonviolent felonies.

Under Florida law, anyone wrongly convicted seeking compensation must have a clean record.

“An incredible story,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes.

Brandes has filed legislation waiving the clean hands provision for Duboise.

“We’ve taken a portion of their lives as a state then they should be compensated for that wrongful conviction,” said Brandes.

State law sets payments for wrongful convictions at $50,000 a year.

In Mr. Duboise’s case, he would qualify for $1.85 million.

This week Robert met with lawmakers, including Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book.

He was describing how he helps feed the homeless.

“So what I did was started making bag lunches,” said Duboise.

“How do you stay so positive?” asked Senator Book.

“You have to,” replied Duboise.

In 2020, lawmakers waived the clean hands requirement for Jacksonville’s Clifford Williams.

If they do the same for Duboise, he’s already got a plan in place.

“I would get me a house, which I’ve never had, and just concentrate on the future. Invest, and just keep pushing forward,” said Duboise.

And even if the money comes through, Duboise told us he’s going to keep working.

Since his release last fall, Duboise has been working as a handyman, doing small construction and maintenance projects.

The legislation also apologizes for the wrong and provides Duboise with 120 hours of trade school or college free at a state institution.

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