A New York jury has awarded $18.5 million to a man who was wrongfully convicted of a rape charge in 1985 and spent 20 years in prison, reports The New York Times.
Alan Newton, a Bronx resident, was convicted of rape, robbery and assault in 1985, based largely on eyewitness testimony, and subsequently spent years trying to get DNA evidence from the case located.
Police Took 20 Years To Find Rape Kit
However, it was not until 2005 that a rape kit from the case was found in a Police Department warehouse. Subsequent testing showed that DNA collected from the victim did not match.
Mr. Newton was released from prison in July 2006, and on October 19, over four years later, a federal jury in Manhattan ruled that the city had violated his constitutional rights. It also found two police officers had failed to produce Newton’s evidence when requested.
New York City Lawyer “Disappointed”
A spokesman for the city’s law department said the city was “disappointed” with the verdict and plans to appeal.
Disappointed? Let’s consider how “disappointed” Alan Newton must have felt when he was first wrongfully convicted, and subsequently spent twenty years in prison.
Alan Newton – What A Hero!
But also let’s consider what amazing resilence and courage this man has shown, refusing to give up. “I’ve had a lot of patience in my life,” he said. “I’ve learned not to rush anything. Good things take time. This decision took time, but it was worth every moment.”
Mr. Newton’s fight to reclaim his life and his dignity was supported by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group that seeks to free convicts through DNA evidence. So far, the Project has exonerated 260 prisoners, but who knows how many more there are?
According to The New York Times, the Innocence Project “said that of about 50 people from New York City it had represented in the last five years, half had received the DNA evidence in their cases from the city. In the other cases, the city was unable to produce the evidence or explain what had happened to it.’
Is this incompetence or deliberate negligence? Whichever it is, it needs to stop.
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