Why Vindication Is Just As Important As Freedom For Clarence Moses-EL

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Photo: Why Vindication Is Just As Important
Clarence Moses-EL at the CPR studios, Jan. 18, 2016.

After 28 years in prison, Clarence Moses-EL is a free man -- but he says there's more to it than that.

"I'm not celebrating my freedom," he says, "I'm celebrating being vindicated."

Convicted in 1988 of the rape of a Denver woman, Moses-EL always maintained he was innocent. His sentence was vacated in December 2016 and he was released from prison, but Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey re-filed charges. The trial took place earlier this month, and on Nov. 14 the jury returned a not guilty verdict.

Moses-EL and his attorney, Eric Klein, spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Klein says he thinks Moses-EL is eligible to receive compensation under a 2013 state law that provides $70,000 for every year someone is wrongly incarcerated.


Moses-EL on being in limbo between being out of jail and awaiting a new trial:

"I acted like I was out, with nothing attached to me. I had to do that in order to cope... to being sane every day. The psychological pressure... is incredible."

Moses-EL on "hedging" his bets, like not signing a lease, in the event that he would go back to prison:

"I'm not saying the thought didn't come at times, but I didn't want to think like that... a year lease? Yeah, I signed a year's lease with myself -- I'm not gonna evict myself -- I wasn't thinking about going back to prison, that was the farthest thing from my mind."

Moses-EL on if money can make up for what he's been through:

"No... In prison I was just a number... that takes away human dignity, pride, all of that. You look at a situation where you've been put away... it's you looking at the value of your life... let's not say the jury, let's not say the judge, let's not say the President of the United States -- it's you looking at your life, what you lost, what it means to you. That surpasses any monetary value."

Klein on the difficulties of trying a case after 30 years:

"There were challenges with memories, people just not having accurate memories... the prosecution brought in witnesses that had new memories, memories that they did not have back in 1987 or 1988."