Black man awarded $750K for 44 years of wrongful imprisonment

A Black North Carolina man falsely accused of raping a white woman is speaking out after his wrongful imprisonment. 

Ronnie Long was sentenced to 80 years in prison, the Charlotte Observer reported. 

RELATED: Yusef Salaam writing memoir about his wrongful imprisonment

His attorneys say that evidence collected at the scene of the crime was never shared with them. 

After spending 43 years, 10 months and 27 days in prison for the crime he did not commit, he was released and compensated for his wrongful imprisonment. 

The problem then lied in the amount of money he was awarded. 

In North Carolina, state law allows compensation to people who are wrongfully imprisoned for the amount of $50,000 for each year, but it is capped at $750,000. 

 At the hearing the claimant may introduce evidence in the form of affidavits or testimony to support the claim, and the Attorney General may introduce counter affidavits or testimony in refutation. If the Industrial Commission finds from the evidence that the claimant received a pardon of innocence for the reason that the crime was not committed at all, received a pardon of innocence for the reason that the crime was not committed by the claimant, or that the claimant was determined to be innocent of all charges by a three-judge panel under G.S. 15A-1469 and also finds that the claimant was imprisoned and has been vindicated in connection with the alleged offense for which he or she was imprisoned, the Industrial Commission shall award to the claimant an amount equal to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for each year or the pro rata amount for the portion of each year of the imprisonment actually served, including any time spent awaiting trial. However, (i) in no event shall the compensation, including the compensation provided in subsection (c) of this section, exceed a total amount of seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000), and (ii) a claimant is not entitled to compensation for any portion of a prison sentence during which the claimant was also serving a concurrent sentence for conviction of a crime other than the one for which the pardon of innocence was granted.

Due to this law, Long will not be compensated for 29 of the 44 years he spent in prison. 

RELATED: 3 Black men awarded $18 million after wrongful conviction over 39 years ago

His lawyer, Jamie Lau, said the $750,000 amount is not enough for people like Long, who spent decades behind bars. 

According to the Charlotte Observer, Long’s time in prison is the third-longest in United States history for a person exonerated.

After being sentenced at the age of 20, Long missed the death of both his parents and he has no savings. 

“He entered prison healthy and left broken. His ongoing financial security is the least he deserves after so much was taken over those 44 years,” Lau said. 

Multiple civil attorneys have reached out to Long about the compensation and he said he is considering his options. 

RELATED: Minnesota juvenile lifer walks free after 18 years in prison

Until then, Long says he plans to use some of the money to purchase a home with his wife AshLeigh and to purchase new headstones for his parents’ graves. 

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