Drayton Witt and Elle MaeDrayton Witt helps his daughter, Ellie Mae Justice Witt, up the jungle gym at Rio Vista Community Park (Photo by Erica L. Lang/Cronkite News)

For Arizona’s wrongfully convicted, life after prison brings hardship and hope

For 12 years, Drayton Witt passed his days behind bars, surrounded by rapists, murderers and convicts. Over the course of a decade, Witt insisted he was not guilty despite a murder conviction for killing his four-month old son.

It turned out he was right. Four years ago, he was freed from prison, his conviction dismissed and his release one of many secured by the Arizona Justice Project.

The project has represented more than 50 inmates, with success in 24 of them. Last year, they received 350 letters asking for assistance.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, a record 149 inmates were exonerated across the country in 2015 – most of who had been imprisoned an average of 14.5 years.

“We as society have learned a lot from these cases about the causes of wrongful convictions and the ways to prevent them from happening in the first place,” said Larry Hammond, the founder and president of the Arizona Justice Project.

Read more, click here: Arizona’s Wrongfully Convicted