Scott Pierpoint. Courtesy: ACT
Morganton, NC-- Imagine spending 17 years, 8 months and 24 days of your life confined in prison for a crime you didn't commit?
Now imagine your state not compensating you for it, after it's proven that you were wrongfully convicted of raping a child. Although, it's hard to imagine for most of us, it is real life for Scott Pierpoint.
Pierpoint, compensation from North Carolina for those 17 years, 8 months and 24 days...$45 and nothing else. No apology, no guidance on readjustment and certainly no financial compensation. He did get an official order of expunction from the state January 27. But a little more than a month later, on March 3, the state officially denied his request for a formal "pardon of innocence," offering no real explanation.
That pardon is crucial because it would entitle Pierpoint, 47, to $750,000 in compensation from North Carolina - $50,000 a year for the first 15 years of his incarceration. But with the denial, he'll get nothing. A tall, lean man with piercing blue eyes, Pierpoint is frustrated but not bitter. "I think the state owes me, but I'm not going to hold a grudge against anyone," Pierpoint said, adding that Gov. Bev Perdue has to clean up a mess dating to the 1990s. "I do think they should help me build my life back, since they was the ones who pulled it apart."
While Pierpoint is frustrated and suspects the state is simply trying to save $750,000 as it deals with a $2.4 billion budget deficit, he remains hopeful that he and his lawyer, Theresa Newman, associate director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility at Duke University School of Law, will prevail in the pardon. "They're not going to give up on it," Pierpoint said. Christine Mackey, press secretary for Perdue, said the denial "was not about money. "The standards for a pardon of innocence are different than a pardon," Mackey said.
The letter denying the pardon request, signed by general counsel Mark A. Davis on behalf of Perdue, offered no specific reasons for the denial. "The governor's staff has investigated this matter and determined that there are not sufficient grounds for the governor to exercise her discretion under the Constitution to grant your client's request," Davis wrote.
Newman said she is uncertain that Perdue herself actually reviewed the case, and she's hopeful that she can put details of the case before her and that will lead to a more favorable decision.
Click on Asheville Citizen-Times to read the full indepth story of Pierpoint's case.
Asheville Citizen-Times/WFMY News 2