07/20/2014 AT 09:35 AM EDT
On the 24th anniversary of her husband's murder, Pamela Smart sits in a conference room at New York's maximum-security Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she is serving life without parole, and reflects on how she will get through another day.
"I have a situation that most people would think is hopeless," the onetime New Hampshire school administrator says quietly.
"But each day is an opportunity. You don't have to be a prisoner in prison."
It's a sentiment Smart has long clung to, having spent more of her life jailed than free.
Now 46, she was convicted at age 23 of persuading her then 16-year-old lover William "Billy" Flynn to kill her husband, Gregg Smart, 24.
She became a tabloid sensation as the salacious details of her sexual escapades with confessed triggerman Flynn, who enlisted high school pals Patrick "Pete" Randall, Vance "J.R." Lattime Jr. and Raymond Fowler to kill Gregg, came out in court.