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Man spends 39 years in prison, gets $21 million for wrongful conviction

A 71-year-old US man will be awarded $21 million for his almost four decades of wrongful incarceration for two murders that took place in 1978, the media reported.

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Washington Published on: February 25, 2019 16:34 IST
The California Victims Compensation Board granted
Image Source : AP

The California Victims Compensation Board granted 70-year-old Craig Richard Coley for wrongful incarceration

A 71-year-old US man will be awarded $21 million for his 39 years of wrongful incarceration for two murders that took place in 1978, the media reported.

Authorities in Simi Valley city, California, announced on Saturday that it would settle a federal lawsuit, giving Craig Coley, a Navy veteran, $21 million for his wrongful incarceration in the 1978 murders of Rhonda Wicht and her four-year-old son, reports CNN. 

Thirty-nine years is the longest prison term overturned in California, according to the authorities.

"While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for Coley and our community," City Manager Eric Levitt said in a statement.

Often, the wrongfully convicted face lengthy battles over how they should be compensated for their imprisonment as localities blame previous administrations and squabble over what monetary sum amounts to atonement.

In 2017, former Governor Jerry Brown pardoned Coley, making him a free man, and the California Victim Compensation Board last year awarded him almost $2 million in compensation -- $140 for each of the 13,991 days Coley was held "illegally behind bars". 

Months later, Coley filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, and now the city is handing over millions more.

The city will pay about $4.9 million, with the rest coming from insurance and other sources, according to a news release.

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