Robert DuBoise loved soccer rising up, however since being freed and exonerated in 2020, has developed a brand new relationship with the game and his hometown crew, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On Sunday, the crew gifted Mr. DuBoise throughout an ”Encourage Change” recreation in opposition to the Carolina Panthers with a pair of distinctive cleats impressed by his 37 years of wrongful imprisonment. The cleats, designed as a part of the NFL’s “My Trigger, My Cleats” marketing campaign, bear Mr. DuBoise’s identify and the variety of years he spent wrongfully incarcerated. They have been introduced to Mr. DuBoise by Buccaneers offensive sort out Donovan Smith, who wore them at a apply forward of the sport.
“They actually shocked me,” Mr. DuBoise mentioned, including that he’s a much bigger soccer fan nowadays than he was once, significantly of the Bucs. “It’s actually cool.”
The cleats are additionally emblazoned with the phrase “clear palms” struck by means of by Nike’s signature swoosh, a recognition of the necessity to eradicate the “clear palms ban” that forestalls Mr. DuBoise, and different exonerees, from being compensated for his practically 4 many years of wrongful imprisonment. Printed on the footwear is “S.B. 526″ — the Senate invoice that might lastly change that.
Though Florida does provide compensation to wrongly convicted individuals, its regulation units forth a number of circumstances that make it extremely tough, if not not possible, for an exonerated individual to really obtain compensation from the state. Since its compensation regulation was handed in 2008, only some out of the handfuls exonerated have been compensated.
Florida is the one state within the nation whose compensation statute features a “clear palms ban,” which prevents an exonerated individual from being compensated in the event that they have been beforehand convicted of sure unrelated crimes. Whereas minor enhancements have been made to this requirement, it nonetheless bars 9 exonerees from being compensated.
Beneath Florida’s present regulation, an exonerated individual may be compensated if they’ve one non-violent felony. Nevertheless, the restrictive coverage signifies that Mr. DuBoise, who was sentenced to probation for minor, non-violent offenses on the age of 17, hasn’t seen a cent for the 37 years he spent in jail — together with three years on loss of life row — for a criminal offense he didn’t commit.
The Innocence Venture, along with the Innocence Venture of Florida, is working to reform the regulation, which additionally requires an individual to use for compensation inside 90 days of their convictions being vacated. This prohibitively tight deadline prevents many exonerees from being compensated, as many individuals stay incarcerated for months and even years after their conviction is vacated whereas prosecutors search retrials.
Senate Invoice 526 and Home Invoice 241, which might repair each these obstacles and at last allow all exonerees to be compensated, are sponsored by Florida Home Rep. Traci Koster and State Sen. Keith Perry.
Since being exonerated, Mr. DuBoise has used his voice to assist this legislative reform, which might assist deliver him and his fellow exonerees one step nearer to justice in Florida.
“When individuals examine these circumstances, typically it’s like simply one other story, however I believe it’s completely different after they meet an individual and listen to it from them themselves,” Mr. DuBoise mentioned.
Previously two years, he has been spending time along with his household and dealing as a handyman. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who first examine Mr. DuBoise’s case within the information, have supported him as he rebuilds his life.
“The fellows have been actually nice,” he mentioned. “I’m simply wanting ahead to being across the individuals in my life extra this 12 months — even those that simply got here into my life not too long ago. I really feel very blessed to have quite a lot of good individuals in my life.”