On the evening of May 15, 1994, shots rang out into the Dallas night. Six miles away, Richard Miles couldn’t hear the sound – but that didn’t matter to the law enforcement officials who arrested him. He fit the profile of the murderer and, after a wrongful conviction, was sentenced to 60 years in prison. It wasn’t until 2012 that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declared him innocent and awarded him compensation for his years of incarceration.
The transition was difficult, to say the least.
“When I left, [it was] beepers. When I came back, iPhones.”
Miles went on to found Miles of Freedom – a Dallas-based nonprofit that helps other incarcerated individuals prepare for the transition out of prison and into society – with the money the state awarded him. The organization offers a number of programs, including a Job Readiness Workshop, a mentorship program for young men and women impacted by incarceration and a forthcoming curriculum that will prepare those who are still incarcerated for their release. Miles of Freedom has assisted more than 200 formerly incarcerated individuals in securing jobs and rebuilding their lives, and the organization joined the Stand Together Foundation’s Catalyst Community in 2017.
Miles’s story is extraordinary – so extraordinary that it came as no surprise when CNN selected him as one of its CNN Heroes last year. The news outlet’s profile on him featured an overview of his story as well as an interview in which he discussed his work and his experiences in greater depth.
“Going back to prison to me is probably one of the best things that I’m doing right now because I feel like the people in prison are the ones that really, really need to know that it’s possible,” said Miles, is his interview with CNN.
“Coming home is possible. Being successful is possible. So, when I’m able to go back in the prison and they hear that I’ve been there, that’s one thing that gives them encouragement. It totally changes their mindset…”
Mile’s work demonstrates his deep belief in the incredible potential within each individual and compassionately leverages his own experience in the justice system to help others overcome significant barriers to a life of freedom.
Richard Miles is one of several Stand Together Foundation social entrepreneurs who have been featured as a CNN Hero.