ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Five men wrongfully convicted of crimes in Maryland are receiving compensation from the state, almost $79,000 for each year they served in prison, totaling $9 million.
Walter Lomax, who served 38 years for a murder he didn’t commit, will receive $3 million, the largest payout in state history.
Lomax was locked up in the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, for a 1967 murder and robbery case. He was 20 years old when he went in.
“I was tried in 1968, a few short months after Dr. King was assassinated. Cities were rioting across the country, and for the most part, young people of color were rising up. So here’s a young person of color who’s charged with killing some white people. He must have did it, that’s what they’re doing, that’s what they do,” Lomax said.
He was released from prison in 2006 and spent the succeeding years advocating for exoneration to get his record cleared.
On Wednesday, The Board of Public Works determined to pay Lomax $3 million in compensation, one of five payouts to men wrongfully convicted who spent decades behind bars.
Lomax said it isn’t about the money.
“Just having my freedom and the fact that people important to me knew I was innocent, and that I was free, that was in and of itself reward for me. If I got compensated, I got compensated,” Lomax said.
Now, Lomax has made his life’s work helping others behind bars through the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative.
Despite all he went through, Lomax said he’s not bitter.
“Where I consider myself as being fortunate is because it took them almost 40 years to uncover the evidence of my innocence,” he said. “If I was in Florida, Texas, Virginia, I’d already be dead.”