(CBS) — Imagine spending more than half your life behind bars for a crime you didn’t commit.
It happened to Angel Gonzalez, but after 21 years, DNA evidence cleared him and Tuesday he was released from prison.
On Friday, he talked with CBS 2’s Mai Martinez about what it’s like to finally be free.
“I feel like I’m alive again,” Gonzalez says.
He spent more than two decades for a 1994 rape and kidnapping he didn’t commit.
“I dreamed that one day somehow, someway, I was going to prove that I was innocent,” he says.
With the help of the Innocence Project, that day came last week when DNA evidence cleared Gonzalez. He was released from prison Tuesday night.
Gonzalez says he has a new appreciation for freedom. Even a simple trip to the mall with his brother is special.
He says he forgot how to dress. But clothing isn’t the only area where Gonzalez feels lost. Cell phone technology has also thrown him, he says.
“The reality kind of hit me in the face,” he says.
His brother is happy to help.
“He’s kind of confused sometimes. He don’t know what to do, but he’s learning,” Saul Gonzalez says.
Angel Gonzales is ready to embrace his new life.
“I’m loving it. I feel like I was born again,” he says.
Gonzalez says he wants to go back to school now. He’d like to become a mechanic.
As for his big plans for his first Friday night as a free man, Gonzalez says he planned to spend it with his family.