A father and son finally get to celebrate Father's Day together after 38 years apart

NEW ORLEANS -- This Sunday, Malcolm Stewart and his father will spend their first Father's Day together in almost four decades.

"I didn't have a Father," Stewart said. "It was a blank date, you know. In my mind I just thought he was going to die in jail."

His father, Malcolm Alexander, was convicted of rape in 1980. He was sentence to life in prison with no chance of parole. But Louisiana inmate number 93124 was innocent, and DNA evidence finally proved it. Last February he walked out of prison, to his family and freedom, after 38 years behind bars.

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Malcolm Alexander

CBS News

"To actually hug him as a free man, it was like a dream come true," Stewart said. "Words can't even explain how I felt because of all the emotion I was feeling at that time."

Alexander said it's been a hard life without his family.

"It's a hard life to live without them," Alexander said. "Because you're living without love. There is no love in the institution."

As for Stewart, he was just 2 years old when his father went to prison.

"You go to your friend's house and they have their dad and it's like, 'Wow man, I wish I had that,'" Stewart said.

This Father's Day, he will -- after a lifetime of prison visits and phone calls to a dad who never deserved to spend one minute behind bars.

When asked what it feels like to finally sit side by side after 38 years, Stewart said there's "no rush."

"There ain't nowhere to go. We made it where we wanted to go," Alexander said.

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Malcolm Alexander and his son, Malcolm Stewart

CBS News

It's easy to think father and son may feel bitter after all this time, but they have a different outlook.

"There's not time to even think about nothing negative, being mad. None of that," Stewart said. "My dad's here, it's Father's Day, i'm very happy, you know what I mean? It's a new beginning."

It seems this family has one word in this year's Father's Day card: gratitude.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.