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N.C. Man Wins $25M Settlement After 44 Wrongful Years in Prison

Ronnie Wallace Long, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 44 years, has reached a $25 million combined settlement with a central North Carolina city and the state of North Carolina, NPR reports. The settlement also includes a public written apology from the city of Concord for its role in his imprisonment, for which it will pay $22 million of the settlement. "We are deeply remorseful for the past wrongs that caused tremendous harm to Mr. Long, his family, friends, and our community," the city's statement read. "While there are no measures to fully restore to Mr. Long and his family all that was taken from them, through this agreement we are doing everything in our power to right the past wrongs and take responsibility."

Long, now 68, is Black. In 1976, he was given two life sentences, convicted of burglary and the rape of a White woman, by an all-White jury that Long's attorneys said was handpicked by local law-enforcement leaders. His legal team, including a wrongful convictions clinic at Duke University's law school, found that more than 40 fingerprints collected from the scene were never shared and did not match Long's. Semen samples also were never disclosed to the defense and later disappeared. In August 2020, after a hearing, Long's conviction was vacated and he was released from prison. Later that year, Gov. Roy Cooper granted him a full pardon of innocence and a state commission awarded Long $750,000 for his wrongful incarceration. He then sued in federal court in Raleigh, in part accusing Concord police officers of "extraordinary misconduct" that led to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment in violation of his civil rights.


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