In June of 1971, Gregory Harris from Detroit was shot to death. Harris’ brother-in-law claimed Richard Phillips and another man named Richard Polombo killed Gregory. In October 1972, Phillips was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, in 2010, Richard Polombo admitted he lied — Harris was correct about Polombo murdering Gregory Harris, but Richard Phillips was innocent. This week, Richard Phillips was finally released. He went to jail at 27 and was released at 72. A profile with CNN.com reports, “Phillips spent more years behind bars than any other wrongfully imprisoned person in America.”
CNN.com also reports “Michigan adopted the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act in 2016, which grants $50,000 for every year that a person has been wrongfully imprisoned. This makes Phillips eligible to receive up to $2,250,000. Phillip’s attorney said she was “hopeful and very confident” that he would receive full compensation. However, exonerees are not allowed financial assistance from the state, which will be a struggle for Phillips — who will have to wait for the courts to compensate him for being wrongfully imprisoned.
Phillips told CNN, “I am not bitter. I was upset at first, but mistakes happen in this world. No life is perfect. Everybody has problems. It would be unimaginable for me to be upset because I had problems, because everybody has them.” He also said, “I have not seen my children in 45 years. I hope that they will see my story in the news and come find me.”