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Crime Ronnie Long: After spending 44 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, this man says his life is worth more than $750,000

06:15  08 april  2021
06:15  08 april  2021 Source:   cnn.com

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Ronnie Long , pictured with his wife Ashleigh, was wrongly accused of rape in 1976 and is now fighting a North Carolina law that caps compensation for exonerated prisoners. (CNN) Ronnie Long sat in jail in North Carolina for 44 years for a crime he didn ' t commit , and now he is planning to fight a law that says he is only owed $ 750 , 000 . "While grateful that Mr. Long received $ 750 , 000 in compensation, the amount is wholly inadequate to compensate him after taking away more than 44 years of his liberty," Jamie Lau, Long 's criminal attorney from his prior case told CNN.

Ronnie Long , 20, a Black cement mason, was on trial for the rape of Sarah Bost, 54, a wealthy, white widow. All summer, protesters had demonstrated against Long 's arrest, accusing police of racial bias. Now, hundreds were gathered outside for the verdict in a case that had torn the community apart. That was in October 1976. This past August, Long was exonerated and walked out of prison a free man . He 'd been locked up for forty - four years , placing him third on the list of American prisoners who've served the longest sentences for crimes they did not commit .

Ronnie Long sat in jail in North Carolina for 44 years for a crime he didn't commit, and now he is planning to fight a law that says he is only owed $750,000.

a man wearing a hat: Ronnie Long, pictured with his wife Ashleigh, was wrongly accused of rape in 1976 and is now fighting a North Carolina law that caps compensation for exonerated prisoners. © Courtesy Ashleigh Long Ronnie Long, pictured with his wife Ashleigh, was wrongly accused of rape in 1976 and is now fighting a North Carolina law that caps compensation for exonerated prisoners.

Long, who is Black, was accused of raping a White woman in 1976. An all-White jury found him guilty of rape and burglary and sentenced him to life in prison.

After maintaining his innocence, and pursuing a lifetime of appeals and denied motions, he was released by a pardon from the governor in December 2020 after the courts found Long had been wrongly convicted.

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Ronnie Long , a 64-year-old Black man wrongly accused of rape and burglary charges in 1976, was finally freed from prison after 44 years behind bars in North Carolina. Despite the scene of the crime containing hair and fingerprints not matching Long ’s own DNA, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison by the state.But Long never failed to maintain his innocence during his decades in prison , and it was a move that benefited him down the road. As it turns out, Concord police may have tampered with evidence that could clear long ’s name: According to his attorney, 40 finger prints and a semen

My name is Ronnie Long . I spent 44 years of my life in North Carolina prisons as an innocent man . I was convicted in 1976 at a trial in Cabarrus County, N.C. that denied me my basic rights and showed what a toxic, racist criminal justice system the state of North Carolina has. I was 21 when I was I was finally released from prison this August after a federal court agreed with me that I had been robbed of 44 years of my life . I am now 65 and have been living off of donations since while I waited for a pardon from Gov. Roy Cooper which would allow me compensation from a state fund for wrongfully convicted

Since his sentencing, "a trickle of post-trial disclosures has unearthed a troubling and striking pattern of deliberate police suppression of material evidence," US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote.

NC law caps compensation at $750,000

Due to his innocence, state law requires that Long, 65, be paid for the time he was kept in prison-- $50,000 a year. However, the sum is capped at $750,000. In Long's case, it means he stopped getting paid after his 15th year in prison.

"While grateful that Mr. Long received $750,000 in compensation, the amount is wholly inadequate to compensate him after taking away more than 44 years of his liberty," Jamie Lau, Long's criminal attorney from his prior case told CNN.

"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."

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Ronnie Long ’s mother, Elizabeth, passed away just weeks before his release, which also came on the birthday of his wife Ashleigh. She had not seen her husband since March, when Albemarle prison was closed to visitors due to COVID-19. Ronnie Long was 20 years old when he was wrongfully convicted. Ronnie Long spent 44 years in a North Carolina prison for a crime he did not commit , released in August after a federal appeals court vacated his conviction and the state finally dropped the case.

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Long told CNN he is hoping to fight the law and get what he deserves from a state that he believes intentionally put him in prison.

"Everything that transpired to put me behind bars was intentional," Long said.

"How is my case the same as someone who is exonerated with DNA? How can you say my life is only worth $750,000? There should never be a cap on a person's life."

When asked if anyone is helping him fight the law, Long said he wasn't going to name names, but there are several people who have reached out to him, but so far no lawmakers. He said it's like baking a cake and currently he's trying to get all of the ingredients together.

"It needs to be addressed because if it happens to me it can happen to you," he said, adding he is going to "shake trees" to get what he deserves.

Lau agrees that the law needs to be looked at and fixed because Long is not the only one that has had this happen.

"At least two men have been exonerated after more than 44 years of incarceration, which highlights the inadequacy of the compensation statute and that cap," he said.

"It's also time to revisit the compensation statute as a whole, as the Governor should not have full authority over who does and does not receive compensation. A review process that is not political should be established so all men and women who have been wrongly convicted has a fair chance at compensation."

"Now I'm living."

Long said that since his release life has been a transition, and he is happy to have loving people around helping him get where he wants to go.

He bought one of his dream cars, the first car he has owned in 50 years, a Cadillac, and he and his wife are planning to buy a new home.

"Now I'm living, I'm back amongst the living. I am a living, walking testimony of a second chance," Long said.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!