A Michigan man who spent 45 years in prison before he was exonerated of murder will receive $1.5 million from the state, the attorney general’s office said Friday.
Richard Phillips, 73, was exonerated in 2018, becoming the longest-serving U.S. inmate to be cleared. He’s been selling his prison paintings to raise money while waiting to learn whether he would be compensated under a Michigan law that pays the wrongly convicted.
“We have an obligation to provide compassionate compensation to these men for the harm they suffered,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.
Her office agreed to pay $780,000 to Neal Redick, who served nearly 16 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct in Genesee County. The complainant recanted, and the conviction was thrown out in 2007.
Ray McCann will receive $40,000. He served 20 months in jail and prison after feeling pressured to plead no contest to perjury in a homicide investigation in St. Joseph County. The conviction was thrown out in 2017, two years after another man confessed to the killing.
Michigan lawmakers still need to put more money into the fund.
Phillips had long declared his innocence in a fatal shooting in the Detroit area in 1971. The Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school learned that a co-defendant in 2010 told the parole board that Phillips had absolutely no role.
Someone who is exonerated based on new evidence can qualify for $50,000 for every year spent in prison. Phillips would appear to qualify for more than $2 million, based on 45 years behind bars. But he’s being paid only for 30 years because he was serving a separate armed robbery conviction at the same time.
Phillips and his legal team said he was wrongly convicted for that crime, too, but Oakland County prosecutors haven’t cleared him.
“The attorney general’s office made a decision to pay him every penny he’s currently owed. I am very happy with how things have turned out,” said Phillips’ attorney, Gabi Silver.