A Michigan man became the longest-serving inmate to be cleared of a crime after serving 45 years for a murder he did not commit.
The state awarded Richard Phillips $1.5 million for the wrongful conviction.
Michigan law provides up to $50,000 per year for every year a wrongly convicted person spends in prison. He was not paid for the 45 years because 15 years also involved an armed robbery conviction, for which he also maintains his innocence.
While waiting for the outcome of his lawsuit, Phillips sold artwork he created in prison to make ends meet.
“We have an obligation to provide compensation to these men for the harm they suffered,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement May 17.
The exoneration was the work of The Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School. Its investigation discovered that a co-defendant of Phillips told the parole board in 2010 that he had “absolutely no role” in the crime, according to The Associated Press.
The AP cited two more cases of compensation recently paid out by Michigan for wrongful convictions:
• Neal Redick served nearly 16 years for criminal sexual conduct he did not do. He will receive $780,000.
• Ray McCann served 20 months in jail and prison after feeling pressured to plead no contest to perjury in a homicide investigation. He will receive $40,000.
The advent of Innocence Projects has led to a number of wrongful conviction cases across the country.
Recent California cases included:
• Quentin Morris was released from a wrongful conviction of murder after serving 27 years.
• Navy Seal Keith Barry was imprisoned for three years for a rape he did not commit. He told a reporter, “Nothing the Seals instructors dish out—in fact, nothing Al-Queda or the Tal- iban could dish out—compares with the hell endured after being accused of rape.”
• The state paid Luther Ed Jones Jr. $1 million for spending 20 years in prison for a wrongful conviction of child molestation.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has created a moratorium of the death penalty. He cited estimates that at least four percent of people sentenced to death in the United States are “likely innocent.”
The Readers Digest reported a Pew Research report that 2 to 8% of people incarcerated in state prisons (estimated at 2 million) are housed for crimes they never committed.
A Department of Justice report estimated that as of 2018 at least seven million Americans are imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.