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The five men —  Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Kharey Wise —  who were wrongfully convicted 24 years ago in the Central Park jogger rape case that shook New York City into a racial divide have reached a $40 million settlement with the city.

The men, who were convicted as teens in 1990, each served nearly seven years in prison, with the exception of Wise, who served nearly 13 years, for the alleged brutal beating and rape of, then, 28-year-old  Trisha Meili. “The Central Park Five,” as they were dubbed, were exonerated in 2002 after after career criminal Matias Reyes confessed to the heinous crime and DNA evidence backed up his claim. The boys always claimed that they were innocent and that the New York police department strong armed them into making incriminating statements against themselves and each other. A year later, the men, who had already served their sentences, filed civil lawsuits against the City of New York and the police offices and prosecutors who worked on their convictions

So after decades of fighting the legal system to get free from a crime that they didn’t commit, $40 million is it? The sum seems awfully low to split among five men who lost 24 years of their lives doing time for a crime they were all violently coerced into admitting they committed. These boys were made into symbols of lawlessness in New York City. In 1989, reports claimed that these “wild” youths acted like a wolf pack, preying on poor women like Meili.

So how does this small $40 million settlement break down? The proposed settlement averages roughly $1 million for each year of imprisonment for the men. That amount would suggest that the city was poised to pay one of the men, Wise, who spent about 13 years in prison, more than it has in any other wrongful conviction case. McCray, Richardson, Santana and Salaam all served seven years.This $40 million settlement must still be approved by the city comptroller and then by a federal judge, was leaked by a source close to a person in the party.

According to the New York Times, if approved, the settlement would fulfill a pledge by Mayor Bill de Blasio to meet a “moral obligation to right this injustice.”  It is not yet known if or how the mayor Bill deBlasio might announce a settlement of the Central Park lawsuit, if it is approved. While I love that these men are now starting to receive justice, I’m not happy about the amount. I think it’s mostly because there’s no real way to put value on someone’s life being taken from them for so long.
What do you think about this $40 million settlement?

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