RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It was a pinch-me moment for Ronnie Long.

Friday afternoon, Long was sitting on his back porch when in mid-sentence he popped up and walked out of the screen door.

A few seconds later, he walked back in with a smile on his face.

“I couldn’t do that! I couldn’t do that behind that fence,” Long said.

To put that into context, Long spent 44 years in prison. He was convicted of rape by an all-white jury in 1976.

Now, fast forward to August 27, 2020.

Long took his first steps of freedom. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that Long’s Constitutional rights were violated.

Nearly four months after that, following a petition and rallies outside of the Executive Mansion, he was pardoned by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Exactly a year to do the day, CBS 17’s Nick Sturdivant caught up with him.

“It took 90 days. It took 90 days for me to be compensated. For me to be pardoned it took 90 days. That’s because I had people from all over the world writing, calling, emailing Roy Cooper,” Long explained.

He’s eligible for the max of $750,000. In North Carolina, a person who gets a pardon is eligible for $50,000 for each year they were in prison.

He said he still relies on donations for help, but he continues to put things into perspective.

“From where I come from to this, this transition here. Man, I’m sitting out on my back porch. I got a screen around me. I got a roof over my head. Man, I’m blessed,” Long mentioned.

Back in October, he was one of two exonerees who got the opportunity to hang out with the Duke University men’s basketball team.

To learn more about Long’s journey, click here.