“I’m residing on a ship and promoting coconuts in Miami,” Orlando Boquete informed me in December 2021. Mr. Boquete spent 23 years wrongly convicted, and since being freed and exonerated by DNA proof in 2006 has been working exhausting to rebuild his life.
“Estoy bien, no te preocupes (I’m good, don’t fear).”
In a method or one other, Mr. Boquete, who got here to the U.S. as a Cuban refugee in 1980 has all the time been on the transfer. He calls himself a survivor, and makes buddies simply, in every single place he goes.
Since we first met on the Innocence Project Network Conference in San Antonio in 2016, we turned quick buddies and Mr. Boquete and I’ve saved in contact. Months later, he requested me to get him a last-minute slot within the Brooklyn half marathon, with out having educated for it, to commemorate 10 years of his freedom. I used to be moved to tears to see him, together with fellow exoneree Jeff Deskovic, cross the finish line in Coney Island as he threw boxing jabs and danced round like Muhammad Ali.
“Life is nice as a result of I’m free.”
Within the time that I’ve identified him, he’s lived a nomadic life, often calling from a brand new cellular phone quantity, however all the time with the identical message: “Life is nice as a result of I’m free.” Even when he calls from the mattress the place he sleeps in his truck, a short lived motel room, or the health club the place he bathes.
In the summertime of 2020, I spent a number of weeks with Mr. Boquete in Chicago and teamed up with VeryTaste to provide a brief movie about Mr. Boquete’s extraordinary path to freedom and his life at present.
Donate to support Mr. Boquete’s fundraiser
On the time of his trial, he solely spoke Spanish, was unable to navigate the difficult authorized system, and was let down by his authorized crew. He was sentenced to 50 years in jail and the day he arrived on the most safety jail, he had one objective and that was to go away.
Mr. Boquete was wrongly convicted of tried sexual battery and assault in Florida in 1983. Two years later, he escaped Florida’s Glades Correctional Institution — a spot he by no means ought to have been — and lived on the run as a fugitive from injustice for 11 years earlier than he was caught and reincarcerated. The Innocence Mission then took up his case, and he was freed by the courts — with an apology from the State Lawyer’s Workplace — in 2006.
Due to Mr. Boquete’s non-violent felony document from the years he was a jail escapee, Florida won’t compensate Mr. Boquete for any of the time he spent wrongly imprisoned. It’s the solely state within the nation with a so-called “clear palms ban” in its compensation statute — one that stops individuals with unrelated convictions from being compensated altogether.
Mr. Boquete lives on a incapacity subsidy of $783 monthly.
Since his exoneration in 2006, Mr. Boquete has often been homeless. On account of his post-traumatic stress dysfunction analysis, he’s unable to work full-time and lives on a incapacity subsidy of $783 monthly.
Mr. Boquete, together with Robert DuBoise, Clemente Aguirre, Nathan Meyers, and different exonerees, the Innocence Mission and the Florida Innocence Project have lobbied the Florida legislature to take away the “clear palms” clause in addition to a prohibitively brief 90-day submitting deadline that stops many exonerees from truly being compensated. This yr, two payments — S.B. 526 and H.B. 241 — might convey justice to Mr. Boquete, Mr. DuBoise, and lots of others exonerated people who find themselves struggling to make ends meet after spending many years in jail for crimes they didn’t commit.
Add your name to help Mr. Boquete receive compensation in Florida
Mr. Boquete maintains a excessive spirit and needs individuals to know that whereas he’s homeless and urges the state of Florida to repair the legislation, he holds onto pleasure by way of boating, fishing, and his love for youngsters. He returned to Cuba for the primary time in 2018, elevating cash and provides to provide again to his hometown, the place many dwell under the poverty line. He desires of opening a health club, Actual Harmless Fugitive, to provide kids whose households are experiencing poverty an opportunity to develop into boxers and athletes in Miami.
“I wish to get the youth on a constructive path. I wish to use my story to do lovely issues,” Mr. Boquete stated.
A Run for Freedom: Orlando Boquete’s Story
Offered by Innocence Mission
A verytaste Co-Manufacturing
Director: Alicia Maule
Producers: Alicia Maule, Daniele Selby
Translation: Isabel Vasquez
Cinematography: Johnny Citadel, Nick Citadel, VeryTaste