A man who was recently exonerated by Governor Bill Haslam after being wrongfully imprisoned for 31 years has filed a claim for the maximum amount of compensation of $1 million.
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.
Tennessee does not automatically grant compensation to someone who was 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.
On Thursday, NewsChannel 5 received a copy of the claim entered before the Tennessee Board of Claims by McKinney’s attorneys on his behalf.
It stated the facts of the case, from being imprisoned in Shelby County on October 2, 1977 to the DNA results that showed he could not have committed the rape. Those results came back on August 29, 2008, and McKinney was released from the penitentiary on July 20, 2009.
His attorneys asserted McKinney’s “primary and fundamental right of freedom… was taken from him by the State of Tennessee.” They continued that he had “suffered shame, humiliation, and mortification arising from the indignity and disgrace that was the proximate result of the wrongful imprisonment.”
Attorneys also stated McKinney suffered the loss of “companionship and community” and said he deserved $1 million in compensation.
“The amount of $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) is in keeping with the other exonerations granted by the governors and award for damages for persons wrongfully incarcerated for rape in the State of Tennessee,” the claim read.
Using rates of compensation for others who had been wrongfully imprisoned, the attorneys stated one received $37,000 for each year incarcerated and another got around $71,000 for each year. The claim stated on those grounds, McKinney would actually be entitled to more than the $1 million requested in the claim for the 31 years he was wrongfully incarcerated.
“Mr. McKinney’s period of confinement amounts to minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and decades of horror. Each minute of Mr. McKinney’s wrongful confinement was filled with fear and torment. The life of a convict incarcerated in the penitentiary for rape is one of a living nightmare, beyond that of the mere incarceration itself,” the attorneys stated in the claim.