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pen pals


Two friends met for the first time when one was freed after being wrongfully convicted

They've been pen pals for over two decades and finally got to see each other face to face.

Wrongfully convicted man meets long-time penpal.

Having a pen pal can be really rewarding. In the early 90s, when letter writing was still a required learning objective and classes got to have penpals from another school, it was exciting to build a connection with someone through writing letters. But for most of us, that practice died off as we started making those lasting connections through social media.

But when Ginny Schrappen got word from her church's deacon that a prisoner wanted a pen pal more than two decades ago, before social media was a thing, she stepped up to volunteer. According to CBS Evening News, Lamar Johnson wrote to Schrappen's church hoping that one of the parishioners would write to him while he was in prison.

Others may have been turned off due to the crime for which Johnson was imprisoned, which was murder. But Schrappen figured, "He's not going to come and get me."

Of course, the elderly woman was safe because Johnson was incarcerated and expected to remain there for most of his natural life. Except, after Schrappen began to get to know the then-convicted murderer, the more she believed he couldn't have hurt anyone.

It turned out her intuition was right. Johnson was recently exonerated after 28 years in prison after the Midwest Innocence Project helped fight for his release. The real perpetrator also confessed, clearing Johnson's name.

After Johnson took some time to become acclimated to being outside of the prison, he made the trip to knock on one of his best friend's doors. Schrappen was thrilled to see her friend and planted several grandma kisses on his cheek as proof.

"Especially when somebody is innocent. You want someone to believe in you," Johnson told CBS. "Cause when you have people that believe in you and they won't give up on you, then it makes it harder for you to give up on yourself."

Watch their sweet first meeting below: