Betty Smithey, the longest-incarcerated woman in America, was released from custody Monday after serving 49 years in prison for the 1963 murder of a toddler, the Arizona Republic reported.
Smithey, now 69, was granted parole by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency on Monday. She was released from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, walking with a cane.
"It's wonderful driving down the road and not seeing any barbed wire," Smithey told the Arizona Republic. "I am lucky, so very lucky."
At age 20, Smithey was convicted of murdering Sandy Gerberick, a 15-month-old girl she had been babysitting.
Smithey was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and according to Arizona law at the time she was sentenced, only the governor could grant her clemency.
She tried, appealing but was denied until current governor Jan Brewer agreed to lower her sentence to 48 years to life.
Smithey has battled breast cancer and "a myriad of other health issues," said her attorney, Andy Silverman.
"She's absolutely not a threat to society. She's almost 70 years old now," Silverman said. "She's done a lot of reflection. Forty-nine years in prison, you think a lot about what you've been through."