Woman freed from prison after 49 years

Aug. 14, 2012 at 4:50 PM

PERRYVILLE, Ariz., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Betty Smithey, America's longest-serving female inmate, was freed by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency after serving 49 years for murder, officials said.

Smithey appeared at a parole hearing Monday, and with the aid of a cane walked out of the Perryville State Prison on her way to her new residence, her niece's home in Mesa, the Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

"Like I told the (parole) board, I know it's going to be a big adjustment, but I'll take it and make good," she said as she traveled, adding, "It's wonderful, driving down the road and not seeing any barbed wire."

Smithey was convicted in 1963 of murdering a 15-month-old child while working as a live-in baby-sitter. She became eligible for parole after Gov. Jan Brewer granted clemency and reduced her life sentence as an "old-code lifer" who could only be paroled if first granted a commutation by the governor. In 1994 and again in 2003 the board recommended clemency for Smithey, but Gov. Fife Symington and Gov. Janet Napolitano denied it.

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