Connecticut man wrongly jailed for 21 years now part of state parole board
"Hands Of The Prisoner In Jail" [Shutterstock]

A Connecticut man who spent 21 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder said on Thursday he would not be lenient on inmates in his new role as a member of the state's parole board.

Kenneth Ireland, 44, was freed in 2009 after DNA evidence showed he did not rape and kill a 30-year-old woman, whose murder he was found guilty of in 1989 when he was 18.

"I spent 20 years inside prison walls, I have some direct and hard-earned perspective on who should stay there and who has genuinely earned a second chance," Ireland said in a statement issued by his attorney a day after Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy appointed him to the board.

"I live in Connecticut too, and no less than anyone else I want the Parole Board to make careful and well-reasoned decisions about who should and should not be in the community."

Ireland is believed to be the first former inmate appointed to the state parole board, according to Malloy's office.

Ireland testified in July before the first hearing of a state commission established in 2008 to review claims of wrongful conviction, and is seeking up to $8 million in damages. A state claims commissioner has said he will issue a decision on a monetary award by the end of the year.

(Reporting by Richard Weizel; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)