Ronnie Long, who was wrongfully imprisoned in a Concord jail for 44 years, finally received a payout from the State of North Carolina. Except they’re only compensating him for 15 of those years behind bars. And he definitely deserves more for his time.
At the age of 20, Long was arrested by Concord police and accused of raping 54-year-old Sarah Bost. Lawyers for Long claimed investigators lied about evidence and fought for years to have the conviction thrown out. An all-white jury of Long’s peers found him guilty in a Oct. 1, 1976 verdict.
He was sentenced to life in prison. His attorneys have said that more than 40 fingerprints and other evidence that was hidden away from the defense. After considering the facts in the case, the DA recommended for Long to be released from prison.
He was freed in August 2020 and just received a $750,000 check.
North Carolina law states anyone wrongfully convicted of a crime can receive $50,000 for each year they were imprisoned, meaning Long, who is 65, should be owed a total of $2.2 million.
But that’s not the case. The state caps the payout at $750K. A tough feeling knowing 29 years of Long’s life away from civilization won’t be recognized.
“You took my 20’s, my 30’s, my 40’s and my 50’s and you still talking about this is worth that?” Long told USA Today.
Long’s attorney Jamie Lau agrees that North Carolina owes him for the time his wrongly spent in a jail cell over the past 44 years.
“He entered prison healthy and left broken. His ongoing financial security is the least he deserves after so much was taken over those 44 years,” Lau said.
If it was some type of reconciliation, Gov. Roy Cooper announced last month that Long would be pardoned for his time spent. But that was also so Long could receive financial compensation from the state.
“It’s time to revisit this amount since we are learning the magnitude of the harm caused by wrongful convictions in North Carolina. It’s also time to revisit the compensation statute as a whole, as the governor should not have full authority over who does and does not receive compensation,” Lau added.
While Long says several civil attorneys have reached out wanting to represent him, he’s going to continue weighing his option as a new husband. He adds that he is “blessed to be free,” and he is currently house shopping with his wife, Ashleigh.