Alan Newton Awarded $18.5M in Wrongful Conviction
Alan Newton, the man accused of rape that served over twenty years in prison until he was ultimately exonerated by DNA evidence, will finally have some closure. The now 49 year-old Newton was released from prison four years ago. He has finally settled his wrongful conviction suit with New York City for $18.5 million.
The judgment represents the largest award ever given to a victim of a wrongful conviction. Like many victims of a wrongful convictions that ultimately find exoneration through DNA evidence, his claim was supported by the Innocence Project. In addition to claiming innocence, Newton argued that the New York Police Department showed a "reckless disregard" for his constitutional rights both in the initial investigation of the crime and in the the department's system for storing post-conviction evidence.
The Times quotes Alan Newton:
"I'm just real numb right now. It hasn't really sunk in. It's so emotional. It's something I've been fighting for the last four years, since I came home. I'm just glad things worked out at the end of the day. There'll be time for celebration, but there are some other things to take care of, I've had a lot of patience in my life. I've learned not to rush anything. Good things take time. This decision took time, but it was worth every moment."
The power of DNA technology has led to numerous exonerations over the years. The ability for DNA to prove innocence provides a unique window into the fallibility of the criminal justice system, and the need for additional safegaurds. Alan Newton's award represents a financial apology for the years of his life he lost sitting behind prison bars. Unfortunately, the battle is not over. The Times adds that the city was disappointed with the decision and plans to appeal.