Exonerate Lawrence McKinney who spent 32 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.
I first met Lawrence McKinney nearly two years ago, when I wrote a story about his case. I already knew who he was -- I had watched him from afar every Sunday morning as he sat across the church we both attend. He may just be the most faithful person I know.
And it’s that faith that got him through 31 years, nine months, 18 days and 12 hours of a wrongful 100-year sentence in Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. DNA evidence ultimately led a judge to overturn McKinney’s rape and burglary conviction, and he was released in July 2009. But his battle wasn’t over. The struggle to clear his record took another 5 years.
And there’s still one arduous legal step in McKinney’s path to freedom: exoneration. With it will come the final clearing of his name and a chance for compensation for his time spent in prison. Only a governor can exonerate a person, and McKinney’s application for exoneration is currently in Governor Haslam’s hands.
We, the many supporters of the upstanding and inspirational Lawrence McKinney, are calling on the Tennessee Board of Parole and Governor Haslam to exonerate him immediately so that he may start a much-deserved new chapter in his life.
In Haslam’s six years as governor, he has yet to exonerate anyone. But Lawrence reminds us that we must have faith. He is currently working toward becoming a preacher, because, as he says, “With my situation, I feel like people could get the hope to make it through anything.” All of us in his community and his church are angry about what happened; we feel vengeful. But he does not. He says he doesn’t have time. It’s amazing.
Please, let’s show our support for Lawrence McKinney so that his name can finally be cleared and he can move on fully with his life. I’m calling on Governor Haslam to do the right thing and make Lawrence McKinney the first exoneree on your watch.
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