Falsely imprisoned man to receive $1.5 million after 45 years behind bars

Falsely imprisoned man to receive $1.5 million after 45 years behind bars

A man who was wrongfully imprisoned will receive $1.5 million from the state of Michigan after spending nearly 50 years behind bars, according to the state attorney general’s office.

Richard Phillips spent 45 years in prison after being falsely convicted for murder in 1972 and sentenced to serve a life sentence. The Michigan attorney general's office wrote that Phillips's conviction "was based almost entirely on the false testimony of the main witness in the case."

The homicide charges against Phillips were dismissed in March 2018 after a review by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s Conviction Integrity Unit. Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) launched the investigation in April to review claims of wrongful conviction.

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Phillips, the longest-serving prisoner to be exonerated in the nation, has been supporting himself by selling his artwork since his release.

“This is great news, and was absolutely the right thing to do,” Worthy said in a press release issued by Nessel’s office. "I remain thankful that in 2018 we were able to bring some justice to Mr. Phillips. While this compensation will not bring back the 45 years that he unjustly served in prison, it is my sincere hope that it will bring a well-deserved and fulfilling quality of life to him.”

“Conceding that no system is perfect, the government’s public recognition and overturning of the convictions of these men helps to foster a healing process, and assures Michiganders that the government– regardless of fault – will take ownership of its errors,” Nessel said. “Reentering society is profoundly difficult for wrongfully convicted individuals and we have an obligation to provide compassionate compensation to these men for the harm they suffered. I’m proud our office was able to play a part in ensuring justice was served.”

The state will also award more than $780,000 to Neal Redick, who served 15 1/2 years in prison for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor. The complainant recanted his claim in 2007 and the Genesee County Circuit Court dismissed the charges. 

Michigan will also award $40,000 to Raymond McCann, a reserve police officer wrongfully charged with perjury relating to a 2007 murder case.

CBS News reported that state legislators now need to approve the money. The Detroit News reported in February that Michigan state officials say there's not enough money in the Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act funds to pay exonerated ex-prisoners.