She tried to save her son's life, and for that, we tried to take hers.

Many of us grow up hearing that justice is "letting the punishment fit the crime." So if someone commits a horrible crime, it seems completely fair to punish them equally horribly. But what if we're wrong? And what if, once we realize it, we can't take the punishment back?

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Sabrina: My name is Sabrina Butler Porter. I'm the only female in the United States that's ever been exonerated from death row. The mistake that I made was that I went jogging that night and I left him in the house by himself asleep. When I came back I noticed that he wasn't breathing so I panicked. I did adult CPR on a nine-month old, but I was scared. I didn't know what to do. Everything changed from that moment on. I lost my son and they accused me of killing my son. I couldn't figure out why. Why, why are they doing this? I mean, I only tried to save him. I was there on death row two years nine months just waiting to die.

Joe: I heard about your case and I didn't believe what I was hearing. I knew that one day she would be a free woman. Some things people just know.

Sabrina: I thank you for that but they destroyed my life because I still live in the same town. People were saying, "Ooh, that's that girl that killed her baby," and I couldn't get a job so it's hard for me.

Joe: I know it is.

Sabrina: It's hard to pick up the pieces behind that because even now that I'm out and I'm free I still get up at night and I check my children and my husband to make sure that they're breathing and that nothing happens on my watch.

Joe: I know you're the best mother you can be [to my own] two kids.

Sabrina: I know sometimes I still don't feel good enough.

Joe: You are. I appreciate you for being a wife for me, a mother for my kids. I just appreciate everything about you and I always will.

Sabrina: It makes me happy that I got somebody in my corner.

Joe: I know it does. I love you and I'll always love you.

Sabrina: I love you, too.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

Original by StoryCorps. For more incredible stories from incredible humans, subscribe to StoryCorps on YouTube, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. To connect with people doing excellent work supplying resources and legal guidance for the wrongfully convicted, please give a visit to the Innocence Project.

Jun 17, 2014

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