Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 21 Years for ‘Nothing’

An Ohio man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 21 years won a $1.3 million settlement for a crime he didn’t commit and was released.

Wrongful Imprisonment

Ralph Blaine Smith, 49, was first imprisoned when he was 24 for an alleged armed home invasion and robbery in Pickerington in 2000, according to local ABC affiliate WSYX.

He was jailed for the supposed crime in 2000, will receive $1.3 million from the state of Ohio as compensation. The amount will be split with his lawyers, who in December filed a wrongful imprisonment claim against the state in the Ohio Court of Claims, USA Today reported.

The payment was approved by the Ohio Controlling Board on Monday.

Smith was arrested in February 2000, accused of breaking into a Lancaster home and stealing thousands of dollars out of a family’s safe. While in prison, Smith and his family worked with defense attorney Joseph Landusky to prove his innocence.

Landusky was troubled by the evidence, he said — or rather, the lack thereof.

“I thought, ‘Well wait a minute, maybe this didn’t even happen,’” said Landusky.

Blaine Stood Up

According to the article, Smith spent most of his time in jail learning the law to prove that he was innocent.

Smith said, “I fought hard studying case law, reading the law books, just being there for hours and hours. That was my time. It was like I got to go to the law library. Every day, that’s what it was for years.”

Landusky questioned, “How can you replace 21 years in prison? You can’t. If I offered you $50 million to go to prison now and get out in 21 years, there’s no amount of money that I could give you that you would do that.”

Landusky said the pieces connecting Smith to the burglary didn’t add up. He presented his findings to a Fairfield County judge that showed Smith not only wasn’t involved, but the crime may have never occurred.

The judge agreed, and in July 2021, Smith was released from prison.

Grateful to be Out

Ralph Blaine Smith was just 24 years old when he was wrongfully imprisoned, and despite losing out on over two decades, said he’s grateful to be back with his loved ones again.

“I’m happy to be here now,” Smith said. “I’m not mad at anybody or angry or anything. I just want to live life.”

Even though he lost more than 20 years, Smith said he holds no anger over his time in prison.

“He’s a lot smarter than most people that way,” Landusky said. “He believes that anger is just going to eat away at him.”

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