A Tennessee man was awarded $1 million from the state Wednesday after serving 31 years in prison on wrongful rape and burglary convictions.
Lawrence McKinney, 61, was exonerated and released in 2009 after new DNA evidence led to the overturning of his 1978 convictions, the Tennessean reported. McKinney’s attorneys requested the maximum $1 million payout for wrongful imprisonment, which members of the state Board of Claims unanimously approved.
“…We want to thank the board and the governor for standing by this man and seeing that justice was done,” David Raybin, one of McKinney’s attorneys, said. “No amount of money can compensate somebody for that long a time (for wrongful imprisonment) – but it is the statement that it makes that is important as well.”
In the years following his 2009 release, McKinney fought hard for his exoneration, which was initially denied by the state board of parole, according to Fox News. The board made recommendations to Gov. Bill Haslam, who had the final say so in the matter.
“Thirty-one years, nine-months, 18 days and 12 hours,” McKinney told local station Fox 17 in 2016. “… They took my life away from me, they took everything away from me where I didn’t have a chance to have a family, raise kids or nothing. All my 20s and all my 30s and 40s, they were taken away from me.”
Haslam finally granted McKinney an executive exoneration in December, which was required for the innocent man to file for compensation in a wrongful imprisonment claim, the Tennessean reported.
Under the terms of the award, McKinney will receive $353,000 upfront to cover attorneys fees, any debts and to purchase a car. The remaining $647,000 will be doled out through monthly payments of $3,350 each month beginning on May 1.
The monthly payments are guaranteed for 10 years minimum, according to the newspaper.