Richard Phillips, who spent 45 years in prison in Michigan before he was exonerated of murder, will get $1.5 million from the state, the Associated Press reports. Phillips, 73, was exonerated in 2018, becoming the longest-serving U.S. inmate to be cleared. He has been selling his prison paintings to raise money while waiting to learn whether he would be compensated. “We have an obligation to provide compassionate compensation to these men for the harm they suffered,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel. Michigan lawmakers still need to put more money into the fund.
Phillips had long declared his innocence in a 1971 fatal shooting in the Detroit area. 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. A Michigan person 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. He is being paid only for 30 years because he was serving a separate armed robbery conviction at the same time. Phillips 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 his attorney, Gabi Silver.