Twenty-two years of his life blocked by fences, shadowed by cement walls, and locked in a prison cell. Now, Alan Newton, after decades of fighting, has been awarded $18.6 million for his years of waiting.
“To see a sunrise, to see a sunset. It’s the little things I really never got to experience while I was locked up for 22 years”, Newton said of how it feels to be free.
Newton was convicted in 1985 for rape, 1st degree robbery and 1st degree assault. He fought nearly every minute he was in jail to prove he didn’t do it. In 1994 he first requested to test the victim’s rape kit for any trace of his DNA. But it wasn’t until 2005 that evidence was finally located. Then, in 2006 the absence of his DNA proved, once and for all, he wasn’t guilty.
Newton has been free for four years now, but still, says he doesn’t quite feel at home, rather “I find myself walking down the street like a tourist.”
He’s now a tourist in a city that has changed remarkably since his imprisonment. Changes that residents adjusted to over time were thrown onto Newton all at once.
Take the subway system for example. When Newton last rode underground, he was using tokens. “I was shocked there were no tokens. I couldn’t figure out how to swipe my metro card,” Newton laughed to himself.
Today, in the city he was born, the city that took everything away from him, and now the city that has made a millionaire, Newton surprisingly isn’t conflicted about New York itself.
“My ill feeling isn’t for the city, I know it wasn’t the city that did this to me. My ill will is for the system which allows these types of things to continuously go on without making the corrections that are really needed.”
Newton got his Associates Degree in prison, and since he’s been out, his Bachelors Degree. If he is ultimately rewarded the money he plans on traveling the world. the New York City Law Department said it was “disappointed” by Newton’s verdict, and they plan to appeal.