Most of us could not imagine being in prison for a crime we didn’t commit. For a man by the name of Malcolm Alexander, however, it was something that was a daily reality for him for nearly 40 years. Thanks to the help of The Innocence Project, he was able to go free and he took the dog he helped to raise within the prison with him.
In 1980, Malcolm was only 21 years old when he was convicted of rape and sentenced to life in prison. He said he was innocent and maintained his innocence the entire time he was in prison.
When The Innocence Project heard about his story and started working on the case, interesting things begin to happen. That nonprofit organization works to exonerate individuals who are wrongfully convicted. In January 2018, they were successful at freeing Malcolm.
Thanks to DNA evidence, he was absolved of the crime and was freed from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. He is now 58 years old.
He was able to reunite with someone he met behind bars on the day after he was freed. It was a puppy named innocence, ‘Inn’ for short.
Inn is a black Labrador retriever and she was born in the prison. As the runt of the litter, she was raised by Malcolm while he worked at the metal and wood shops within the prison.
The mother and puppies were not part of a formal foster or rehabilitation program at the facility. They were pets and some inmates are permitted to keep them.
“To have a dog is a privilege,” Malcolm said of caring for Inn. “It makes the world different.” An attorney with the Innocence Project, Vanessa Potkin was able to capture the reunion on video.
Malcolm was thrilled to be back together with his dog again. She is now nine months old and welcomes some belly rubs. Malcolm reassures her that he will be staying with her.
“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 was also able to get back together with his son, grandson and 82-year-old mother. While in prison, he learned woodworking, jewelry making and carpentry so he hopes to find a job in one of those trades.
When he was first incarcerated, he was understandably angry but he says he is not angry any longer. He now simply wants to ‘enjoy what life we have left’.
He is also thrilled to have his dog by his side.
“This brings it all together.”