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Georgia Legislature Awards Wrongly Convicted Man $1 Million

In its 2005 session, the Georgia Legislature awarded Clarence Harrison $1 million for loss of liberty, personal injury, lost wages, injury to reputation, emotional distress, and other damages as a result of his nearly 18 years of incarceration and expenses and trying to prove his innocence.
Harrison was convicted on June 26, 1987, and a sentenced to life in prison for rape and 20 years each for kidnapping and robbery to run consecutive to the life sentence. His conviction stemmed from the October 25, 1986, attack of a woman walking to a bus stop in Decatur, Georgia. The woman was grabbed from behind, struck on the head, and dragged to an unknown location where she was sexually assaulted. She was dragged to two other unknown locations, again sexually assaulted, and her wristwatch was stolen.

After his November 5, 1986, arrest, Harrison maintained his innocence. At trial, the victim identified Harrison from a photograph lineup and a witness who lived in the neighborhood where the attack occurred identified Harrison, as a man who had come to her door on the evening of the attack and circumstances suggested to her he was the assailant.

In September 1998, Harrison sought DNA testing. The laboratory conducting the analysis was unable to produce results due to previous testing of the evidence. Despite being told all evidence in his case had been destroyed, Harrison continued to try to prove his innocence. In 2004, testing that was not available in 1998 concluded with 100 percent certainty that Harrison DNA did not match the DNA from the victims of rape kit. Based on this new evidence, the charges were dropped on August 31, 2004.

During his imprisonment, Harrison was divorced by his wife and virtually prevented from seeing his two children throughout his incarceration; he missed the birth of his first grandchild; his mother and one sister died; he suffered from medical conditions including a worsened back problem that causes him now to have to walk with a cane, migraine headaches for three years for which he received no treatment, and due to a delayed diagnosis of kidney cancer, he had to have a kidney removed.

The General Assembly of Georgia ordered the Department of Corrections to pay (from funds appropriated to it,) $1 million to Harrison as a fitting and proper compensation for his loss. See: Georgia General Assembly House Resolution 108.

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