• April 20, 2024

Innocent man who spent 44yrs in prison for rape receives ₦25 billion compensation in U.S.

 Innocent man who spent 44yrs in prison for rape receives ₦25 billion compensation in U.S.

By our Reporter

A North Carolina man who spent 44 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in 1976 has reached a historic $25 million (about N25 billion) combined settlement in a civil lawsuit in the U.S.

Ronnie Long, 68, received $22 million from the city and $3 million from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to one of his lawyers, Jamie T. Lau.

In a written public apology to Mr. Long on Tuesday, the Concord City Council said: “We are deeply remorseful for the past wrongs that caused tremendous harm to Mr. Long, his family, friends and our community. Mr. Long suffered the extraordinary loss of his freedom and a substantial portion of his life because of this conviction.

He wrongly served 44 years, 3 months and 17 days in prison for a crime he did not commit. While there are no measures to fully restore to Mr. Long and his family all that was taken from them, through this agreement we are doing everything in our power to right the past wrongs and take responsibility.”

Mr. Long was a 21-year-old cement mason with a 2-year-old son when he was convicted on Oct. 1, 1976, of breaking into a home in Concord, about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte, and raping a 54-year-old woman earlier that year. He was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences even though no physical evidence linked him to the crime, his lawyers said.

Mr. Long’s lawyers said the Concord police had been under pressure to close the case in part because the victim’s late husband had been an executive at a local textile company, Cannon Mills, which had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Long, who is Black, was accused of raping a White woman in 1976. An all-White jury found him guilty of rape and burglary and sentenced him to life in prison.

After maintaining his innocence, and pursuing a lifetime of appeals and denied motions, he was released by a pardon from the governor in December 2020 after the courts found Long had been wrongly convicted.

Due to his innocence, state law requires that Long, 65, be paid for the time he was kept in prison– $50,000 a year. However, the sum is capped at $750,000. In Long’s case, it means he stopped getting paid after his 15th year in prison.

“While grateful that Mr. Long received $750,000 in compensation, the amount is wholly inadequate to compensate him after taking away more than 44 years of his liberty,” Jamie Lau, Long’s criminal attorney from his prior case told CNN in an Interview.

“He was in a cage when both his parents died; when his son had birthdays and graduations. He lost everything for those 44 years, and certainly he deserves more than he has received.”

Long said that since his release life has been a transition, and he is happy to have loving people around helping him get where he wants to go.

He bought one of his dream cars, the first car he has owned in 50 years, a Cadillac, and he and his wife are planning to buy a new home.

“Now I’m living, I’m back amongst the living. I am a living, walking testimony of a second chance,” Long said.

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