A Black man is finally free after serving nearly 50 years of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit. At the age of 20, Ronnie Long was convicted of raping a White woman in Concord, North Carolina, according to ABC News.
Long was convicted by an all-White jury that was never presented with physical evidence that tied him to the rape. He was initially charged after being arrested for trespassing and the victim picked him out of a line-up. Long was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
In 2005, his attorneys discovered that key evidence was withheld during the trial and began working for an early release. For instance, semen samples and fingerprints obtained from the crime scene that did not match Long and were withheld by law enforcement.
The case reveals how racial dynamics have destroyed the lives of innocent Black people over the decades.
On Aug. 28 and at the age of 65, Long’s sentence was finally vacated by the state of North Carolina and he was released from Albemarle Correctional Institution in Stanly County, North Carolina.
“Mr. Long, a Black man, was tried in ‘small town’ 1970s North Carolina by an all-white jury for the rape of the white widow of a prominent local business executive,” Judge James Wynn of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
A GoFundMe campaign set up by his wife, Ashleigh Long, has raised over $12,000 to help him with his transition to life after prison.