In 1978, Lawrence McKinney was sentenced to 115 years in prison on rape and burglary charges — crimes he maintained he never committed.
But he would spend about 31 years in prison before his name was finally cleared. In 2008, DNA testing of the victim’s bedsheets revealed that none of the sets of DNA matched McKinney’s profile. He was released the following July and given a measly $75 by the Tennessee Justice System.
After his release, he began a long and arduous legal battle to get a formal exoneration from the governor’s office, which was complicated by the Tennessee Board of Parole’s reluctance to accept the validity of the DNA evidence. Fortunately, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam still formally exonerated McKinney on December 20th, 2016, which made it possible for McKinney to receive a higher payout from the state for his wrongful imprisonment.