NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man who spent 31 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit is getting a shot at exoneration and compensation, seven years after he was released.
The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/2di1eCE) the Tennessee Board of Parole will hear Lawrence McKinney’s case on Tuesday and decide whether to recommend that the governor issue a formal exoneration order. McKinney had been falsely accused of rape and burglary in 1977 in Memphis.
Gov. Bill Haslam does not have to follow the board’s recommendation and does not need its approval to act. But a spokeswoman for the governor has said it is the administration’s policy to wait for the board’s recommendation before considering clemency.
State Rep. Mark Pody, a Republican who represents the former prisoner’s district in Lebanon, has been frustrated by how long the process of compensating McKinney for all his years in prison is taking.
McKinney, 60, was released in 2009 based on DNA evidence. The Board of Parole turned down his first request for exoneration in 2010, a decision his attorney at the time called shocking.
If McKinney is exonerated this time he would be eligible for compensation of up to $1 million. Tennessee has paid compensation to wrongfully convicted men only twice before.
Clark McMillan in 2004 was given more than $800,000. He received $250,000 up front with the remainder in an annuity that pays him about $3,400 a month, according to the Tennessee Board of Claims.
But McMillan said more than two decades in prison left him unable to build a career, and medical costs from multiple health issues without adequate insurance have swallowed much of that income.
Pody said he could see including health insurance and job training as part of McKinney’s compensation.
“I think we would want to give them more than money,” Pody said. “I want to make sure the system is working properly.”
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com