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Black Man Imprisoned 44 Years For Crime He Didn’t Commit Receives $25M Settlement

Ronnie Long, 68, was 21 years old when he was wrongfully convicted after being falsely accused of raping a white woman.

After being imprisoned 44 years for a crime he did not commit, Ronnie Long received a $25 million settlement Jan. 9 from the city of Concord, North Carolina, and the state of North Carolina. The bulk of the settlement, $22 million will come from Concord, where he was convicted.

Long had his sentence vacated by the state of North Carolina in August 2020, according to CBS News.

The agreement ends the wrongful incarceration lawsuit filed by Long’s attorneys. Included in the settlement was an apology from the town, located approximately 25 miles northeast of Charlotte.

“We are deeply remorseful for the past wrongs that caused tremendous harm to Mr. Long, his family, friends, and our community. Mr. Long suffered the extraordinary loss of his freedom and a substantial portion of his life because of this conviction. He wrongly served 44 years, 3 months and 17 days in prison for a crime he did not commit. 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. We are hopeful this can begin the healing process for Mr. Long and our community, and that together we can move forward while learning valuable lessons and ensuring nothing like this ever happens again.”

The 68-year-old Long was 21 years old when he was wrongfully convicted after being falsely accused of raping a white woman. When he did go to trial in Cabarrus County, an all-white jury convicted him of burglary and rape and he was given two life sentences.

A wrongful convictions clinic at Duke University’s law school helped Long gain his freedom. His attorneys stated that none of the more than 40 fingerprints collected from the scene were not given to his defense team and none of the prints matched Long’s. Semen samples taken were never disclosed to the defense and later disappeared.

After a federal appeals court ordered a new hearing for Long in August 2020, the conviction was immediately vacated and Long was released from prison as a free man. Gov. Roy Cooper also granted him a full pardon of innocence.

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