Woman who spent 49 years in prison tells 3TV what Jodi Arias can expect

By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- If anyone knows what convicted boyfriend killer Jodi Arias is going through, it's Betty Smithey.

Fifty years ago Smithey was found guilty of killing an infant she was babysitting in Phoenix.

Smithey was sentenced to natural life in prison at the age of 20.

"In my case I just thought the world had ended and I just didn't care what I did," said Smithey.

The ex-convict is now 70 and free from prison.

Once convicted, Smithey was put on suicide watch, as Jodi Arias is.

On Wednesday, Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008.

Arias made some statements about not wanting to live, now that she's facing the death penalty or life in prison.

Smithey described prison as, "Hell on earth. Every day is just like a living death, especially when you have no hope of ever getting out."

She said the hardest part about prison is not having anybody to talk to.

The 70-year-old was the nation's longest serving female inmate and housed at the Perryville Women's Prison in Goodyear, where Arias will eventually be sent to.

While Smithey wasn’t on death row, she knows all about it because in the distance of the prison she could see the three women currently on the row.

Death row inmates get six hours a week out of their cell to exercise inside a fenced in pen.

They aren’t allowed to speak to other inmates and eat in their cells alone.

All inmates have their legs shackled when they leave their cells to shower.

After 49 years in prison, Governor Jan Brewer granted Smithey clemency and she was released.

"Last August God worked a miracle on my case, and you know I’m free now," she said.

Smithey encourages Arias to, "Don't ever give up hope, because if you do, you ain’t going to make it."

The child’s mother eventually forgave Smithey for killing her baby.

The ex-convict plans on doing the best with the rest of her life now that she's been given a second chance in the real world.


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