As a kid, being punished for something you didn’t do was pretty bad. But how does getting locked up for 31 years for a crime you didn’t commit sound? That’s exactly what happened to a man in Memphis, Tennessee. And to make matters worse, the man was only compensated $75 for being wrongly imprisoned.
Meet Lawrence McKinney, now 60 years old. In 1978 he was convicted of raping a woman and stealing her television. As such, he was sentenced to 115 years behind bars — 100 years for the rape and 15 years for the theft. However, he was released in 2009 after new DNA evidence cleared him of the crime. Better late than never, right?
Wrongly Imprisoned for Over Three Decades
In 2009, after testing DNA evidence from the case, it was revealed that McKinney wasn’t even at the scene of the crime. He was set free and given a hefty sum of $75 for his troubles. However, that wasn’t going to cut it. Now Mr McKinney is applying for exoneration.
If he wins the case, the wrongly imprisoned man is inline to receive up to a maximum of $1 million. That won’t undo the wrong, however it will go a long way towards making him feel better. But there is one problem: the state’s parole board has already twice declined to hear his exoneration case.
Battle for Exoneration
The most recent appeal occurred this September with the seven members of the Tennessee parole board unanimously voting to deny hearing McKinney’s exoneration case. One parole board member, Patsy Bruce, stated that she voted against the hearing because she still was not sure if the wrongly imprisoned man was innocent.
To make matters worse, the Tennessee Board of Claims has only compensated exoneration claims twice since 2003. However, the final say comes down to Republican governor Bill Haslam. And only time will tell what he will decide. In the meantime, a Change.org petition in support of exoneration has collected more than 10,000 signatures.
Meanwhile, Mr McKinney is working at Immanuel Baptist Church with the hope of becoming a preacher. And it’s a good thing because it seems like only divine intervention can help Mr McKinney now.
Other Wrong Convictions
Unfortunately, this was not the first case of wrongful conviction. Steven Avery was convicted of rape and attempted murder in 1985, when we has 22 years old. After serving 18 years in jail, in 2003 he was exonerated after DNA testing proved his innocence.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. After getting out of prison, in November 2005 he was charged and convicted of murdering a Wisconsin photographer. Moreover, his nephew, Brendan Dassey, was convicted in 2007 as an accessory to murder. The murder trial was the focus of the popular Netflix original series, Making a Murder. Moral of the story: innocent or not, crime doesn’t pay.