Photo via Fox 17 News Nashville

Lawrence McKinney was arrested for rape in 1977. After being convicted he spent 31 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit.

“My 20s, 30s, and 40s, got taken away from me…I didn’t have a chance to build something for myself.” McKinney told Fox 17 News Nashville.

The 61-year-old is now being rewarded $1 million by the state of Tennessee. However, his fight for justice started in 2009 after DNA evidence proved his innocence. McKinney had to fight for his exoneration and compensation for his prison sentence. The exoneration was originally voted against unanimously, but the decision was overruled by Governor Bill Haslam in 2017.

Photo Via Fox 5 News Nashville

McKinney’s lawyer, David Raybin, describes the reward as “bittersweet” after fighting the case for six years.

“I’ve been a criminal defense attorney for 40 years, this is probably one of the most moving events I’ve ever experienced,” he said in an interview with Huffington Post. “To have someone in prison that long and to fight for years, for six years to get him some justice, it has just been an enormous undertaking.”

The compensation will cover lawyer fees, a car, and various debts. According to the Tennessean, McKinney will receive an initial payment of $353,000 and the rest will be divided in into payments of $3,350 every month for an estimated 10 years.

McKinney also told Fox 17 News Nashville that his faith in God is what carried him through the difficult prison sentence.

“I know that God put peace in my heart,” said McKinney. “Love God with all your heart, your mind and your soul, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

TELL US: Is $1 million enough compensation for 31 years in prison? Let us know your thoughts.

Black Lives That Should’ve Mattered
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