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Longest Serving Female Inmate in US Released from Prison
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Betty Smithey, sent to prison in 1963 on a life sentence for murder, walked out of prison on Monday of this week with a cane. Smithey holds the distinction of being the longest serving female inmate in the United States. Smithey was released on Monday from Arizona State Prison after she served 49 years for murdering a 15-month-old.

“It’s wonderful driving down the road and not seeing any barbed wire,” Smithey said in an interview with the Arizona Republic. “I am lucky, so very lucky.”

  
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Smithey was convicted back in 1963 for the New Year’s Day murder of Sandy Gerberick. Gerberick was strangled by Smithey while Smithey babysat. Smithey has a history of mental illness. She was sentenced by a court to life without parole. Smithey continued to appeal the ruling, with nothing coming of the appeals. The reason for this is that a law in Arizona says only an acting governor is permitted to issue clemency to a prisoner. Her sentence was finally lowered to 48-years to life by acting governor Jan Brewer.

Smithey said that she turned her life around when she received a letter from the victim’s mother 19 years after the murder.

“If she could do that, it was my responsibility to try and become a better person than I was and ever since I received that letter, I started slowly turning things around,” Smithey said during a hearing.

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“She’s almost 70 years old now,” Andy Silverman, the lawyer for Smithey, said. “She’s done a lot of reflection. Forty-nine years in prison, you think a lot about what you’ve been through.”





 

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