KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Robert Franklin gets a second chance at life starting Thursday. He was released from the Moberly Correctional Center after Gov. Mike Parson commuted his 22-year sentence in June.
"I just can't explain it, it's a feeling that I didn't think I was going to feel for the next five years," Franklin said.
Franklin was arrested in 2007 during a traffic stop after he tossed a pound of marijuana out of his car window.
He was convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He had prior drug offenses, which increased his sentence to 22 years with no parole.
While in prison, he gained many advocates of non-violent cannabis offenders, such as the Canna Convict Project, led by Christina Frommer and Chris Smith.
Frommer and Smith traveled to Moberly to be there when Franklin was released.
"To actually see him come home, there aren't even words, I cried all day, his mom has cried all day, all tears of joy," Frommer said.
After being released, Franklin got to do the one thing he's wanted more than anything, hug his daughter.
"Seeing my daughter was the most excitement I've had in a long time, I haven't seen her in almost two years because of COVID," Franklin said.
The Canna Convict Project and other advocates wrote many letters to Gov. Parson advocating for Franklin.
Frommer said she believes the effort is what ultimately helped lead to Franklin's release.
"I think just everyone burning the stick at both ends, all ends, for the Governor, really created a successful outcome for him and I think that's why he's sitting next to us today," Frommer said.
Franklin is grateful for the advocacy from everyone who came out to fight for him. He knows he wouldn't be where he is now if it wasn't for them.
"Everybody that advocated for me and had anything to say I'd like to say thank you, and I appreciate it and words can't describe the feeling that I've got," Franklin said.
Franklin will be on parole for 10 years. He said he's a changed man now and he's excited to start a new life.
"I'm looking forward to getting back into society and being there with my daughter and family and spending the rest of my years happy," Franklin said.