Steve Bousquet column: For one man, justice; for others, anguish
How much is a man's life worth? For William Dillon, it's $1.35 million.
That's $50,000 for each one of the 27 years Dillon spent in state prison for a murder he did not commit. Wrongly imprisoned, he was tortured by fellow inmates, and his teeth rotted away as he spent more than half his life behind bars until DNA evidence proved his innocence.
Dillon, 52, of Satellite Beach, was in tears last Friday as he watched the state House of Representatives pass a bill to compensate him for a horrific injustice. "You can either be real glum and sad and have ulcers about it, or you can just put it past you and say, 'I'm going to be positive about it,'" Dillon said.
Dillon is fortunate. Influential legislators such as Senate President Mike Haridopolos and Rep. Steve Crisafulli, both Republicans from Merritt Island, have championed Dillon's cause and kept fighting after a similar bill failed late in last year's session.
But Florida's claims bill process is arbitrary and byzantine and subject to all kinds of political influence. Some victims get justice while others languish in limbo for years.