After 39 years of unjust imprisonment, nothing tastes sweeter than freedom. Well, except freedom and a check for a million bucks.

An Ohio Court of Claims judge Thursday awarded Ricky Jackson $1 million for wrongful imprisonment upon his release after 39 years of imprisonment for a crime he didn't commit, Cleveland.com reports.

Jackson, 58, was exonerated in the 1975 murder of Harold Franks outside a convenience store when Eddie Vernon, who was 12-years-old and the killing's only witness, recanted his testimony nearly 4o years later.

Vernon said he saw the killing but was actually in a school bus with other kids a block away. Jackson has since met with Vernon and forgiven him. He harbors no hard feelings and is just thankful Vernon was brave enough to recant.

Jackson is expected to receive an additional million dollars as well as substantial compensation for attorney's fees and wages he could have earned had he been out of prison. His lawyer told Cleveland.com it is too early to give an estimate.

Jackson's two best friends, who are brothers, were also convicted in the killing but were paroled before the exoneration, WCPO reports. A judge ruled they are entitled to similar government payments.

Local media caught Jackson's first moments after release on video.

"Just because you're in prison, you don't have to be a prisoner," Jackson told reporters outside the courtroom after his release. "You got to be a man, and you got to get yourself together no matter what the circumstances are and you got to press forward. You know you're innocent and got to keep fighting."

When asked what his first meal would be, Jackson said he didn't care as long as it wasn't prison food.

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