Wrongfully convicted better off in Canada

If you’re going to be wrongfully convicted, you’re better off in Canada than in America. Not only is thePrison Canadian justice system more lenient, when (if) you’re finally released from prison, you’ll virtually win the lottery. In America, on the other hand, you’ll be compensated like you mop floors at Wal-Mart. Take the case of a North Carolina man.

Dwayne Allen Dail, 39, was cleared in August of the 1987 rape of a
12-year-old Goldsboro girl. The girl identified him as her attacker and
hair found at the scene was similar to his. But DNA evidence found on a
fragment of the girl’s nightgown years after the trial proved Dail
wasn’t involved in the attack.

Gov. Mike Easley pardoned Dail two
weeks ago, making him eligible to receive $360,000 from the state –
$20,000 for each year he spent in prison. [Link]

In case you were sleeping in math class, that means he served 18 years in prison. It may seem like a full sentence for a rape conviction, but Dail still had two life sentences to serve. Yes, the jury had sentenced him to two life sentences, plus 18 years. (But at least he wasn’t in Saudi Arabia. He got to keep his you-know-what.)

The poor man was wrongfully convicted, served 18 years, was compensated, and what do you think happened next?

Dail, who now lives in Florida, was served Tuesday with a lawsuit by
Lorraine Michaels, the mother of his son, who is seeking back child
support. The suit does not specify how much money she wants, as is
normal in North Carolina, but asks a "reasonable sum for the care and
maintenance of the minor child." Dail did not provide while he was in
prison.

Dail said he was devastated by the suit. He said his son recently moved to Florida to live with him.

"I
was thrown in prison. What could I do? I missed my whole life. I missed
my son’s whole life. I’m not the person to be compensating anyone for
anything – not me," Dail said. [Link]

Not only is the state paying him a pittance, he’s being sued for part of it. When everything is said and done, he’ll be lucky if he can afford to get gas. Burritos can be expensive.

Meanwhile, in Canada, David Milgaard and others have enough money to salve the wounds of wrongful imprisonment.

Milgaard was sentenced in 1970 to life imprisonment for the 1969 murder of
Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller.

Milgaard spent 23 years in prison. The Supreme Court of Canada set aside his
conviction in 1992. He was subsequently cleared by DNA evidence five years
later.

In 1999, the Saskatchewan government awarded Milgaard $10 million for his
wrongful conviction. In the same year, Larry Fisher was found guilty of the rape
and stabbing death of Gail Miller. [Link]

Money isn’t everything of course, and I wouldn’t trade places with Milgaard. For $10 million, I wouldn’t spend 23 years in a prison cell, not unless it had a jacuzzi and a big-screen TV, and all the guards looked like Halle Berry.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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