CBS Sunday Morning did a story about an up and coming artist that was almost gone. Richard Phillips was an artist that was doing long time. As a result, he spent forty-five years in jail which made him the person who spent more time behind bars than any other “wrongfully imprisoned person in America”.
Phillips was a Detroit auto worker who was arrested and convicted of being involved with the murder of Gregory Harris in 1972. Fred Mitchell the victim’s brother-in-law accused Phillips and Richard Polombo of being the two people responsible for, the murder.
In 2010 after serving 38 years in jail, Polombo admitted he lied. Phillips didn’t have anything to do with the murder. However, Phillips didn’t hear about his confession until four years later. If not for the Michigan Innocence Clinic, Phillips would still be in jail.
The Michigan Innocence Clinic is an organization of law students that investigate and litigate cases on behalf of prisoners who have “new evidence” that they are innocence of the crime for which they have be imprisoned.
In 1990 Richard Phillips started painting to break up the monotony of doing long time. It was his salvation because he knew he was innocence. He told his attorney that he would rather die in prison than admit to a murder he did not commit. He started off painted water colored greeting cards for fellow inmates which allowed him to buy art supplies. Over a course of thirty years he developed a body of work.
The Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act in 2016 grants $50,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment which means Phillips would be eligible to receive $2,250,000. When Phillips was convicted, he left behind a wife and two kids; age 4 and 2, they would now be 49 and 47 years old.
The system is broke and needs a fix. It could have happened to me. I’m from Detroit and I worked in the factory before I went off into the service after the 1967 Riots.