Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has exonerated a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 31 years.
Lawrence McKinney walked out of a Tennessee prison in 2009 and was given $75 for his time after DNA evidence exonerated him of rape and burglary.
According to a CBS News report, McKinney hoped Haslam could help make up for 31 years of not being able to earn an income. He has worked odd jobs at a church to help make ends meet.
Tennessee does not automatically grant compensation to someone who is wrongfully convicted. His request for compensation was denied by the parole board twice.
Now that McKinney has been exonerated, he’s eligible for compensation up to $1 million - about $32,000 for every year he served in prison.
The Tennessee Board of Claims will now consider the compensation.
Governor Haslam released the following statement:
“Today I granted Lawrence McKinney’s request for gubernatorial exoneration from his 1978 convictions. Though the facts of this case are complex and reasonable minds may draw different conclusions from them, ultimately I respect the determinations of the Shelby County Criminal Court and District Attorney General that Mr. McKinney was not guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted and would not have been prosecuted if the DNA testing results had been available at the time of trial. Mr. McKinney was released after more than 30 years in prison when the court set aside his convictions in 2009.
In the eyes of the judicial system, Mr. McKinney is innocent. While I appreciate the hard work and recommendations of the Board of Parole, in this case I defer to the finding of the court charged with determining Mr. McKinney’s guilt or innocence."