NPR: North Carolina Man Awarded Millions in Settlement Following 44 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment

Man Wrongfully Convicted for 44 Years Receives $25 Million Settlement

Man Wrongfully Convicted for 44 Years Receives $25 Million Settlement


After enduring 44 years of wrongful conviction and imprisonment, Ronnie Wallace Long has finally received justice. A combined settlement of $25 million has been reached between a central North Carolina city and the state of North Carolina, putting an end to the lawsuit accusing authorities of misconduct. This landmark settlement includes a public apology from the city of Concord for its role in Long’s incarceration.

The Wrongful Conviction

In 1976, Long, a young Black man residing in Concord, was falsely accused of raping a white woman. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, an all-white jury in Cabarrus County convicted him of burglary and rape. Long, then 21, received two life sentences, setting the stage for one of the most unjust cases in American history.

Fighting for Justice

Throughout his years in prison, Long’s legal battle for justice was supported by a wrongful convictions clinic at Duke University’s law school. His attorneys tirelessly worked to uncover the truth, revealing that over 40 fingerprints found at the crime scene were never shared and did not match Long’s. Additionally, crucial semen samples mysteriously disappeared, further undermining the integrity of the case.

A New Chapter

In August 2020, a federal appeals court granted Long a new hearing, leading to the overturning of his conviction and his subsequent release from prison. Governor Roy Cooper later granted him a full pardon of innocence, acknowledging the grave injustice that had been done. Long was then awarded $750,000 by a state commission, the maximum compensation for victims of wrongful incarceration.

The Settlement

Long’s pursuit of justice did not stop there. He filed a lawsuit in federal court in Raleigh, specifically accusing Concord police officers of “extraordinary misconduct” that violated his civil rights and resulted in his wrongful conviction. As part of the settlement, the city of Concord agreed to pay $22 million, while the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) contributed $3 million due to their role in hiding evidence that proved Long’s innocence.

A Sign of Progress

This settlement represents one of the largest wrongful conviction settlements in the country and serves as a testament to the magnitude of the injustice that Long endured. The city of Concord’s public apology carries significant weight for Long, as it acknowledges and accepts responsibility for the errors in judgment and willful misconduct by previous city employees that contributed to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

A Step Towards Healing

Chris Olson, one of Long’s attorneys, emphasized that the apology from the city of Concord goes a long way in helping Long heal. It is a small but meaningful step towards addressing the deep harm caused to Long, his family, friends, and the community. While no amount of money or apology can fully restore what was taken from them, this settlement signifies a commitment to righting the past wrongs and taking responsibility.

Read More of this Story at – 2024-01-10 06:07:46

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