61-year-old Lawrence McKinney served 31 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The Memphis, Tennessee native only received $75 for compensation. At 21 he was convicted of rape and burglary and was sentenced to 115 years in jail, though that sentence seems excessive given sentences of other convicted on the same crime. Also, this man just so happens to be Black. In 2009, he was released after DNA evidence cleared him.
Once released, he was unable to cash his check because he had no ID. McKinney is no asking the governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, to pardon him and petitioning the state to compensate him with $1 million for the years he wrongfully spent in prison. This only seems fair being that $75 for 31 years spent in jail for a crime one did not commit is insulting and shows how the justice system treats those of color.
His first request of exoneration was neither denied or accepted before the governor left office in 2010. The second request was denied by the TN Board of Parole with a 7-0 vote in September 2016. Apparently the board did not find anything that showed the man was innocent of the crimes, though he was released from prison because DNA cleared him of all charges. That sounds suspicious.
A clear thinking person would think that they do not want to give this man any money because when he was convicted, these crimes were pinned on him and they knew then that he did not commit these crimes, yet now that evidence shows otherwise, the board does not want to be seen as having done something wrong.
McKinney is now married and says he is “not bitter or angry at anyone.” He is a good man because I don’t think any other Black person would have taken this lightly, though given the time he went in, 1978, that was a different time period and Black people weren’t as conscious then as they are now.
What I gathered from this case is that there are too many people, not just Black, that are wrongfully committed of a crime and serve time. Once they are released after evidence proves they did not commit the crime, they are rarely paid. 31 years is a long time to be in prison. That man is 61 now and really can’t do anything with his life. He missed out on a lot of things that he could’ve done in life.