CINCINNATI, Ohio — You may remember Chris Smith - we shared his story back in May when he was released from prison after he was wrongfully convicted and served for almost 13 years.
What You Need To Know
- Chris Smith was wrongfully convicted of armed robbery and served over 12 years in prison
- Smith was released this spring after his conviction was overturned
- Smith says he looked forward to voting once he was freed
- He voted for the first time this election and said it was the most incredible feeling to have his voice be heard
You may never know Chris Smith served almost 13 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He loves watching football on Sundays, spending time with his girlfriend, and has turned into a cat person.
But Smith is open to sharing his story, the struggles of prison and all he looked forward to.
“That fresh air, it’s just stuff that I could never really take for granted, you know?” Smith said.
But it’s not the only thing he’s not taking for granted these days. For the first time in his life, he’s getting the chance to vote.
“When I was on the inside, I just couldn’t wait to be able to be free to contribute to getting the right people in office," he said.
And Smith cast those votes Thursday, despite waiting in the rain.
“I completed it, went to the car, and I just sat there, took a deep breath, shed a tear and I was like I finally feel a part of this country," Smith said.
Smith said after his experiences in court, with judges and prosecutors, he feels the local races are even more important than many realize.
“I’m very passionate about these local elections," he said. "And I’m telling people, tap into your local stuff, find out who’s running, find out this person’s track record.”
Smith said the process was emotional, but he’s grateful he could finally exercise his right to cast his ballot.
“Every square I shaded was with purpose, just being optimistic that this person is going to help the world be better," Smith said.
Now, Smith spends a lot of his time on the phone with clients and promoters for his business in the music industry and with prisoners looking for a glimmer of hope.
“It’s like he didn’t miss a beat," Haley Cardinale, Smith's girlfriend, said. "He’s not behind, he’s very much here and it’s like he never left.”
While it hasn’t been an easy road for Smith, he said the support of his family and girlfriend is what has kept him going, and now he has the freedom to look forward to the rest of his life.
“But yeah, five years from now I see us being in a great place," he said.