Malcolm Alexander spent nearly four decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But with the Innocence Project’s help, he finally went home and got to bring the dog he helped raise in jail home with him.
Malcolm was 21 years old in 1980 when he was sentenced to life in prison for rape. He said he was innocent then, and maintained his innocence in all the years since.
The Innocence Project got wind of Malcolm’s story and began to work on his case. The nonprofit legal organization is dedicated to exonerating wrongly convicted people and in January of this year (2018) they succeeded in freeing Malcolm.
He was absolved of the crime thanks to DNA evidence and finally walked out of Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola a free man at 58 years old.
A day after he was freed, he reunited with someone he met behind bars – a puppy named Innocence (“Inn” for short).
The black Labrador Retriever was born at the prison, and was the runt of the litter. She was raised by Malcolm as he worked at the metal and wood shops in the prison.
Inn, her mother and puppies weren’t part of a formal foster or rehabilitation program at the prison, rather they were pets, which some inmates are permitted to keep.
“To have a dog is a privilege,” Malcolm told TODAY of caring for Inn. “It makes the world different.” Their reunion was caught on camera by Vanessa Potkin, an attorney with the Innocence Project.
Malcolm and Inn are all smiles the moment they see each other again. The 9-month-old dog rolls over for some belly rubs and Malcolm reassures her, she’s staying with him. “You ain’t got nothing to worry about no more,” he says in the video. “I told you they was gonna get us out.”
Malcolm has also reunited with his 82-year-old mother, his son and grandson (both named Malcolm) and other relations. Malcolm learned carpentry, woodworking and jewelry-making during his time in prison and hopes to find work practicing one of these trades.
When asked if he was angry about his wrongful imprisonment, Malcolm said that he was angry when he was first incarcerated, but he isn’t any longer. His deepest desire now is to “enjoy what life we have left.”
And he’s very happy to be sharing that time with his canine companion by his side. “This brings it all together,” he says of having Inn home.
Watch the entire reunion between Malcolm and Innocent in the video below.