April 9, 2021 12:05:21 pm
Ronnie Long spent 44 years in a North Carolina prison for a crime he didn’t commit, now he’s fighting a law that says he is only owed $750,000.
In 1976, Long was falsely accused of raping a white woman and an all white jury sentenced him to life in prision on grounds of rape and burglary. After maintaining his innocence throughout and pursuing a series of appeals that were subsequently denied, the court found him not guilty and he was pardoned by the governor in December 2020.
Due to his innocence and wrongful conviction, the state law requires that he be paid for the time that he spent in prison, i.e. $50,000 a year. However, the amount was capped at $750,000. Long believes that he deserves more.
“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,” Jamie Lau, Long’s former criminal attorney, told CNN.
“How is my case the same as someone who is exonerated with DNA? How can you say my life is only worth $750,00? There should never be a cap on someone’s life,” Long said.
Lau argued that the law needs to be updated since Long isn’t the first person to face this fate. He said that the compensation statute as a whole should be revisited as currently the governor has full authority over whether one receives compensation or not. According to Lau, the process should not be political and wrongfully convicted persons should have a fair shot at compensation.
Since his release, Long says that he’s happy to have loving people around him. He bought his dream car, a Cadillac, and he and his wife are planning to buy a house.
“Now I’m living, I’m back amongst the living. I am living, walking testimony of a second chance.” Long told CNN.
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