After being wrongfully imprisoned for 45 years, Richard Phillips will be awarded $1.5 million for the time he has lost.
What We Know:
- In 1971, Phillips was arrested as the suspect in a fatal shooting in Michigan. He pled not-guilty but was still sentenced to serve jail time.
- While in prison, Phillips painted to pass the time. He has been selling his paintings to raise money. According to Phillips, “it was something to do, occupy my mind.”
- When reviewing the case, The Innocence Clinic of University of Michigan law school found new evidence in Phillips’ case. In 2010, a co-defendant told the parole board that Phillips had no involvement in the fatal shooting. Thanks to this update, Phillips was released from custody in 2017. A year later, he was exonerated. The state attorney general. Dana Nessel agreed that Phillips’ year spent in jail were worth $1.5 million. According to Nessel, “we have an obligation to provide compassionate compensation to these men for the harm they suffered.”
- Under Michigan law, a person that has been exonerated based on new evidence can qualify to receive $50 thousand for every year they spent in jail. Phillips served 45 years but will only be compensated for 30 years. This is because he was also serving a separate sentence for an armed robbery conviction at the time. Phillips has stated that he was wrongfully convicted in that case as well. At this time, the Oakland County prosecutors have not cleared him of that charge.
- Phillips has served more time than any other exoneree in history of the United States. Prior to this, Ricky Jackson held the record for longest time served. Jackson was wrongfully convicted of a 1975 murder in Cleveland. He served 39 years in prison. Jackson was exonerated in 2014 and has received $1 million in compensation.
- Phillips has spoken out about the situation as he awaits his payment. “I’m gonna be alright regardless, whether they compensate me or not.” He has also continued to sell his paintings, which are now selling for thousands of dollars. “It would be remiss of me to actually want to keep all of this stuff rather than share it with the American public.”
State legislatures still need to agree to pay money while lawmakers work to put money into the fund.