It has been 38 years since Malcolm Alexander was outside of prison. But when he was finally exonerated and declared a free man last month, he was accompanied by the canine companion who had helped keep him sane on the inside.

Alexander was originally given a life sentence without parole for a crime that he did not commit in 1979. The Innocence Project, which is a nonprofit dedicated to freeing wrongfully-convicted inmates, assisted in proving Alexander’s innocence.

While he was behind bars, however, the dog of one of his convicted friends gave birth to a litter of 10 pups. Alexander adopted the runt of the litter because he said that “she needed the most love”.

Alexander named the dog “Innocent” and spent much of his time raising and adoring his canine companion in the common areas of the prison.

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After he was proven innocent by DNA-testing and released from prison, volunteers for The Innocence Project brought Innocent to Alexander’s house the next day – and their reunion is tearjerking.

“I feel beautiful,” Alexander told Inside Edition. “I feel happy, very happy. I feel happy for her.

“I told you we gonna be free,” he said to the joyful puppy. “This is the end and [it’s] complete.”

(WATCH the video below)

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(Photo by the Innocence Project)