Lamonte McIntyre was freed in 2017 and fought to institute the mistaken-conviction statute, which provides justice to those wrongfully convicted.
Lamonte McIntyre was only 17 years old when he was placed behind bars for a crime he did not commit. In 1994, he was handed life imprisonment for the murders of Donald Ewing and Doniel Quinn. He spent a total of 8,583 days in prison before being released and finally exonerated in October 2017. Spending over two decades in jail for a crime you were not responsible for is the height of injustice. Therefore, he filed a lawsuit against the state of Kansas for wrongfully convicting him - and won. The Kansas State Attorney General's office announced he would officially be handed a whopping $1.5 million for wrongful imprisonment, CNN reports.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt affirmed in a statement released earlier this week, "In this case, our office worked diligently to obtain and review all available evidence, including evidence identified but not provided in the earlier judicial proceedings. We were ultimately able to resolve all issues, satisfy all of the statute's requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. McIntyre can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because of his mistaken conviction." Though McIntyre was released in 2017, he only filed the lawsuit in 2018. The lawsuit was filed under the mistaken-conviction statute, which was passed that year.
McIntyre was one of the major reasons the law was passed in 2018. He was one of the key individuals to provide testimony in support of the law. "The state of Kansas can’t give me back the 23 years it took from me," he said at the time. "But it can pass this compensation law so I can start my path to a successful future. This law would provide a fair amount of money for each year that I lost in prison. It would help me get the resources I need to heal from my wrongful conviction. We have much work to do to make our system more just so what happened to me doesn’t happen to another innocent person. But we can start here. Supporting compensation for the wrongfully convicted should be something we can all agree on. I hope you will support this law to help exonerees in Kansas finally get the justice we deserve."
McIntyre's lawyer Cheryl A. Pilate said in an interview with CNN on Monday, "Today, Lamonte McIntyre has been declared, finally and conclusively, a completely innocent man. That long-overdue recognition, along with the statutory payment and other benefits, will help lighten a bit the heavy load he has carried." In addition to the $1.5 million settlement, he was also awarded access to Kansas' health care benefits program for two years, counseling services, and a tuition wavier for post-secondary education. All records of his conviction and associated information were also ordered to be duly expunged.
Since being released from prison, McIntyre has co-founded the nonprofit Miracle of Innocence. Through this initiative, he hopes to aid others like him who are or were wrongfully convicted. Additionally, he is the co-owner of Headlines Barber Academy in Kansas City, where he simultaneously works as a student instructor. "I'm not angry," he explained in an interview last year. "I'm frustrated because I don't like to see this kind of injustice happen to nobody. We are going to help innocent people come home. But we also want to make sure they are sound and on solid ground once they get here." His is the third case to be resolved under the new law. At present, three more similar cases are under litigation. While this law is a shining light for those wrongfully convicted, the police and judiciary must do better to make sure it never needs to be used.