In 1978, Lawrence McKinney received a 115-year jail sentence for charges of rape and burglary. He was cleared of the charges in 2008 and released in 2009. As he left prison, the state’s Department of Corrections provided McKinney with only $75 to start a new life. But, now, he’s getting the justice he deserves.
McKinney, a Tennessee man, was wrongfully imprisoned for 31 years, being cleared of all charges in 2008.
However, before he could receive compensation for his time spent in prison, a potentially $1 million payout, he first had to obtain a formal exoneration from the Tennessee governor’s office.
The Tennessee Board of Parole, in 2016, unanimously decided not to recommend McKinney be exonerated.
“After considering all of the evidence, the board did not find clear and convincing evidence of innocence and declined to recommend clemency in this matter,” said board spokeswoman Melissa McDonald, according to a report by CNN.
However, the decision did not lay in the board’s hands. Last December, according to Jack Lowery, McKinney’s attorney, Governor Bill Haslam went against the board’s recommendation and exonerated McKinney.
Then, on Wednesday, the Tennessee Board of Claims voted to provide McKinney with the maximum payment of $1 million. The decision was unanimous.
Members of the board even discussed wishing they could provide McKinney with more.
Lowery stated that McKinney would receive an initial payment of $353,000, providing McKinney with the ability to cover some of his legal fees and purchase a car. The remaining $647,000 will be provided as a monthly annuity payment of $3,300.
The monthly payments are guaranteed to continue for a minimum of 10 years. If McKinney passes away during that time, the remaining payments will be directed to his wife.
McKinney appreciates the money, saying, “In my age, it helps me so I won’t have to work so hard.”
“In prison, I had to work so hard for nothing,” he added.
“My blessing and praise go out to God,” McKinney continued. “And number two, my pastor. He’s always been there for me, and my church has always been behind me. But my wife has really been my right hand. She has always been there for me.”
— Chris Conte (@NC5_ChrisConte) December 20, 2017