The state of North Carolina has taken an innocent man 44 years and only compensated him with $ 750,000.
In August, North Carolina finally released Ronnie Long after serving 44 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was convicted of raping a white woman by an all-white jury in 1976. After his case rushed back and forth in court for decades, his verdict was overturned for good in August.
Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, finally pardoned the 64-year-old in December after years of begging by Long's lawyers. Unfortunately, the state of North Carolina will only compensate for unlawful convictions up to $ 750,000 that Long eventually received.
Long told The Charlotte Observer about the compensation: “Fair? What is fair Ask yourself this question when these people took away your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and started your 60s. "
He continued, “Put this in the newspaper. Is Ronnie home yet? You asked me what's fair? I have a dead mother and a dead father in the ground. You tell me what's fair "
Long was never able to reunite with his mother, Elizabeth Long, who died on July 11 at the age of 89, which was about a month before his final release. It was her prayer to see her son free again before she died, which unfortunately never happened.
Long also told The Charlotte Observer, "Everything that happened here is not overlooked. Damn no, I'm not satisfied. You wouldn't be if you were in my position. You wouldn't be either."
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In May 1976, 19-year-old Ronnie Long went to court for burglary in Concord, North Carolina. He could never have predicted that this would have resulted in his being indicted and identified as a rapist on a white woman in the courtroom.
Long was pointed out by the victim because, according to his attorney Jamie Lau, she testified, "He was the only one in the courtroom who looked anything like the person who attacked her."
The victim, who died in 2016, originally told law enforcement that the attacker was "yellow", indicating that he was a fair-skinned black man and that she "never mentioned any facial hair on her attacker".
Long had a beard, a mustache, and is a dark-skinned man.
Of the 43 fingerprints police collected on the rape scene, none of the prints matched Long, the Charlotte Observer reported. Even so, he was quickly convicted by an all-white jury.
In May, Long's attorney defended his case in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which included 15 members of the country's second highest court.
According to the Charlotte Observer, North Carolina Judge James Wynn opened the case, “The prosecutors clearly had evidence that every defender in the world, not just in 1976 but in the history of this country, would have wanted or needed it and it should have been delivered. And yet we did not provide it. "
Ronnie Long was finally released on August 27, 2020. He spent 44 years, three months and 17 days behind bars for a crime he did not commit.