A man in Kansas City, Kansas has been released after spending 16 years in prison over a botched purse snatching that he didn’t even commit. 

Richard A. Jones was sentenced to 19 years in prison – again, for a purse snatching – after he was identified in a lineup by the victim in 1999. Let’s take a moment to applaud the United States’ flawless criminal justice system!

“The whole time my lawyer was telling me [the judge] is about to reverse my sentence and release me I didn’t believe it,” Jones said. “When he finally said it, I shed some tears. It was a beautiful thing.”

Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered Jones to be released after faculty and teachers at the University of Kansas Law School and the Midwest Innocence Project stepped in to help, according to KCUR. The group provided the court with proof that Jones was incorrectly identified all those years ago.

For example, Jones’ attorneys provided pictures of the actual perpetrator of the crime and a sworn affidavit from the victim stating that she probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the two. Despite this, she testified that Jones was the perpetrator in court and he nearly spent 20 years in prison as a result.

“When I got locked up, my kids were kids and now they’re grown,” Jones said. “That gives you an idea of what type of time people are doing and the type of time a person can do for a crime they didn’t commit.”

A GoFundMe page has been started to help Jones adjust to life now that he’s been released.

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