“I spent 22 years, 4 months, 4 days and 1 hour banished to a life sentence. Next year, I will watch my daughter walk across the stage at her college graduation. I left guys behind who deserve their freedom too.”
- Reflections of Alton Mills
Alton Mills at his step daughter's graduation
It has been over two decades since Alton Mills stood in Judge Aspen’s courtroom and received a mandatory life sentence. After nearly 23 years buried alive, President Obama ordered Alton’s freedom on December 19, 2016.
Alton left prison with no money, no state ID, no job, and only the clothes on his back. Today, Alton works as a mechanic for the City of Chicago. He is engaged to marry the love of his life and enjoys watching his young granddaughter play with her toys.
Judge Aspen hopes lawmakers will see the are so many more men and women unfairly banished like Alton: “If Mr. Mills does what I think he’s going to do, I think five years from now you’ll see he has not committed any crimes, he’ll be working regularly, he’ll be interacting with his family, and he’ll be a role model for a lot of people who have come out of the penitentiary with the good attitude that he has,” Aspen says. “Hopefully it will give legislators a reaffirmation that the mandatory guidelines were a mistake and that every case is different. There are so many nuances in a sentence that you cannot cover no matter how intricate your guidelines are.”