Is $75 Million Sufficient Compensation for 2 Brothers Who Served Decades in Prison for a Crime They Did Not Commit?
After spending decades behind bars, two Black brothers were finally released from prison and were awarded $75 million after being wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buie, when they were just teenagers.
Leon Brown and Henry McCollum were arrested in 1983, remaining behind prison walls for nearly 31 years in prison, with one even receiving a death sentence, before their acquittal in 2014.
An eight-person jury recently awarded Brown and McCollum $31 million each in compensatory damages, along with an additional $13 million in punitive damages.
DNA evidence extracted from a cigarette found at the crime scene proved that Brown and McCollum were not responsible for the crime. In order to redress this catastrophic error, in 2015 the brothers filed a civil rights lawsuit against law enforcement officers who were associated with the case and their original conviction.
In their lawsuit, the brothers argued that the brutal interrogations carried out by officers had wrongfully led to their convictions, and there was an absence of solid proof that they had committed the crime. The young brothers had low IQs and were scared at the time of their questioning, which led to them being coerced into giving confessions.
Brown and McCollum are now free, despite having spent an appalling amount of time behind bars for the crimes that an actual convicted murderer had committed. Their story is just one example of many who suffer in incarceration for crimes that they did not commit.
This story begs the question of how many other innocent citizens across the country remain behind bars on convictions that could put them to death to this very day, and what steps should be taken to release those who deserve their freedom.
We all must strive to bring about a more just legal system to prevent errors like this from occurring in the future.