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Lawrence McKinney was jailed for 31 years when he was just 22. In 2009, he was released from prison because the state government realised that he couldn’t have committed a crime.

New DNA testing of the crime scene showed that it could not have been him. His DNA was not at the crime scene.

The man tried to be formally recognised as innocent in 2016 but he failed. Because of this, the Governor of Tennessee declared the man innocent by himself in 2017. The Governor said that the man did nothing wrong and suggested that he should be given compensation.

The maximum amount of money allowed is $1 million. That is what was given to him. He will get the money every month for the rest of his life. He will get $3,350 every month. In 16 years, he will have been paid $1 million but he will continue to get the money even after that, he will never stop getting the money so long as he is alive.

Difficult words

Jailed: A place where police take people that have done illegal things.

Committed: To be loyal to something

Crime Scene: The place where something illegal happened.

Formally: With structure or my certain rules

Declared: Something that has been announced

Suggested: Something that has been advised

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

 1. Jailed  A. Loyal
 2. Committed  B. Announced
 3. Formally  C. Recommend
 4. Declared  D. Lock-up
 5. Suggested  E. Officially

True or False?

1.  The man was jailed when he was an old man. T / F

2.  The government decided he did not commit the crime. T / F

3.  The man’s DNA was at the crime. T / F

4.  The Governor of Tennessee thinks the man is innocent. T / F

5. The man did not fight for money. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. at / DNA / His / not / the / was / scene / crime

2. years / just / for / he / when / 22 / Lawrence Mckinney / was / jailed / 31 / was

3. from / In / he / was / prison / 2009 / released

4. testing / of / been / have / DNA / could / him / scene / showed / the / crime / that / not / it

5. nothing / that / the / wrong / did / Governor / said / man / The

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

 

Awarded Recognised Jailed
Realised Wrong DNA

Lawrence McKinney was __________ for 31 years when he was just 22. In 2009 he was released from prison because the state government _____________ that he couldn’t have committed a crime.

New DNA testing of the crime scene showed that it could not have been him. His ________ was not at the crime scene.

The man tried to be formally ______________ as innocent in 2016 but he failed. Because of this the Governor of Tennessee declared the man innocent by himself in 2017. The Governor said that the man did nothing ___________ and suggested that he should be given compensation.

Now, after a long fight, he has been _____________ the most money allowed.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. Is crime a big issue in your country?
4. How much do you think the man should get for spending 31 years in prison?
5. What can be done to stop people being wrongfully imprisoned?
6. What would you do if you were wrongfully imprisoned?
7. Do you think a 115 year sentence is ever justified?
8. What do you think about the death penalty?
9. Is it right that someone can be released from prison but not exonerated?
10. What are prison conditions like in your country?
11. Should all crimes committed before DNA testing was available have DNA testing done on the evidence now?
12. How does your country reintegrate prisoners into society?
13. How difficult is it for a person with a criminal record to get a job in your country?
14. Do you think there is a better alternative to prison?
15. Should prison be used more or less as a punishment?
16. How are people chosen for jury duty in your country?
17. Do you think there is a better alternative to a jury?
18. Do you think racism was a factor in his conviction?
19. Is racism a problem in your country?
20. What would you like to ask the man?