A Cleveland man, who spent almost 30 years in prison for a murder he said he did not commit, is now eligible to receive more than $1 million in compensation for his wrongful imprisonment after he was exonerated by a judge on Monday.
According to Cleveland.com, Charles Jackson was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted of murder and attempted murder in 1991. He was ultimately released in 2018 after spending 28 in prison. The charges against him were also dropped by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office the following year.
The wrongful imprisonment ruling now clears the path for Jackson to receive compensation from the Ohio Court of Claims. He is entitled to receive around $52,000 for each year he spent wrongfully incarcerated.
But though Jackson welcomed the compensation and the ruling, he told News 5 Cleveland that he doesn’t think the state can completely right the wrongs of his wrongful conviction.
“I’m relieved. All these years to be labeled as a monster and to live through that and to feel shame and humiliation and now to be totally exonerated, it feels good,” said Jackson. “I don’t think [the state] could ever make it right. But compensation is a good start immediately to get my life going and to take care of my family and to move on and put this behind me.”
Jackson’s exoneration came into effect after his attorneys and officials with the Ohio Attorney General’s office filed a joint motion to agree that he was wrongfully imprisoned.
“I don’t think there is any judge that would ever want to imprison an innocent person,” Judge Sutula said during her ruling. “Since [the judge that presided over Jackson’s 1991 conviction] is not here to say he’s sorry, I’ll say it for him.”
Jackson’s case was taken up by the Ohio Innocence Project. The legal organization said that Jackson was ultimately convicted with statements two witnesses gave in connection with his case, News 5 Cleveland reported. His attorneys also argued that several police reports were exculpatory as investigators were untruthful and fabricated evidence while the case was being investigated. Jackson was said to have been wrongly identified as the perpetrator by potential witnesses because they mainly based their judgment on the photo arrays that were shown to them.
The city of Cleveland as well as the detectives that looked into the case among others were named as defendants in a federal civil rights lawsuit Jackson and his attorneys filed.
“Cleveland murder detectives hid evidence, fabricated evidence and hid witness statements that were completely exculpatory,” one of Jackson’s lawyers said.
“When police and prosecutors don’t do justice, when they don’t pursue justice, when they intentionally withhold evidence and put the wrong people behind bars, everyone suffers. The ripple effects of that go on and on and on for decades.”