He spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now he has a mission to help others.


He was an innocent man.

"Very often I say," May 15, 1994 is the day when Richard Ray Miles died, Jr.. "I became a number – 728716."

Miles spent the next 15 years in Texas prison. It was 34 when it was released in 2009.

"I was overwhelmed, I was 34, but I was 19 from the social position, I was not dealing with the world, and I was literally scared," he said. "I did not know about taxes and employment. The world was totally different."

For two years, Miles struggled to turn to his feet. Eventually, she found a job, a home, and today she is married to a child.

His own struggles and the appearance of other people previously imprisoned in the same situation were the impetus for starting what is now Miles of Freedom, a non-profit organization in Dallas, which aims to help people move around and remain out of jail.

"I saw firsthand these desperation points for people coming from prison." Yes, they committed a crime, but many wanted to do better and it was not just a place to do better, "said Miles, now 44.

The United States has the highest prison rate in the world. More than 2 million adults were imprisoned or imprisoned in the United States by the end of 2016, according to recent federal statistics.
And many times, an arrest is enough to be trapped in the criminal justice system. One study showed that nearly half of 25,000 federal offenders were overthrown for a new crime or illegal violation after their release.

Miles was fully cured in February 2012 and used part of the money he received from the state to provide comprehensive readmission services for people and families affected by imprisonment.

Operating in South Dallas, the nonprofit organization helps people returning home from prison, helping them get an ID, enroll in college, and secure housing. The Group also provides IT and career training, financial education programs and job placement.

The Miles of Freedom Lawn Care service provides temporary employment for men and women in the program. Miles also offers a shuttle service, which takes family members to see their loved ones who are imprisoned.

"There are so many people who make this happen," said Miles. "One of my prayers is always to be humble, I rarely want to be alone in my image … At the age of 19 all I had was 60 years and a bunk and God gave me so much the age of 44 years. "

Allie Torgan of CNN spoke with Miles about his work. Below is a version of their conversation.

CNN: What took you through the years you have wrongly and imprisoned?

CNN Hero Richard Miles

Richard Miles: The first thing is my belief. Because when the judge said I was guilty, everything left me down at that moment. I felt that the system abandoned me, the system is supposed to protect, supposedly right. I went to the church every day of my life. When I went to jail, I needed something and so it was a double time to try to get it from a more intellectual idea to something I could dwell on.

My mom and dad were a great factor because they came to visit me. My mom would always say to me: "When you look out of the window, do not look at the bars, you look at the sky." It's a matter of perception, you know. You may be in a state that can not be changed, but can you change the situation? So when they were gone and my situation did not change, I could change my perception in the prison area.

I often tell people there is peace in innocence. I was able to find this peace. I was not a prisoner. I was an innocent person in prison, and I could not let that slip off my mind.

CNN: Why is your work focused on South Dallas?

Miles: Our goal is to provide holistic services to areas affected by imprisonment. South Dallas is one of the areas to which most people return home from prison. We have a lot of people going to Dallas through temporary homes.

Some of the challenges people will face are that there are not many jobs or employment opportunities. Through case management services, we help people returning home from prison or who have been out for a long time. We help them with everything they really need to succeed.

CNN: In addition to support and training programs, what else do you offer?

Miles: We are doing a deep dive in financial literacy, which is being taught by Frost Bank. We also have a curriculum of nine courses dealing with soft skills, diversity and change in the workplace, sexual harassment – and all these things get our participants ready for employment, which is very important. Because they come from an institution that did not provide these sets of skills to maintain employment.

For 42 years, two Florida men have been jailed for murder. Now, they are free after the state has dropped the case.

We also have a program for youth. We have high school schools across the street where we enter and we talk about prison, the challenges and the right choice. We organize different community events, behind school events, where we can talk to children and family members about death, to stay out of prison and training needs.

CNN: You can also return to prison to encourage you.

Miles: Returning to jail for me is perhaps one of the best things I do now because I feel that people in jail are the ones they really really need to know is possible. Entrance to the house is possible. Success is possible. So when I can go back to prison and hear that I was there, that's one thing that encourages them.

It completely changes their mentality and enables them to really look in the mirror and control themselves, such as: "If the master passed through it and was innocent, I know that at least I try to be successful." I am curing incoming because I can walk and encourage myself. And men are cured because they see someone who was there with people coming back.

Do you want to get involved? Checkout the Miles of Freedom website and see how to help.
To donate the Freedom Mile through CrowdRise, Click here