Life in Louisiana
My name is Keith Morse and I'm serving life in Louisiana. My name is Hannibal Stanfield I'm serving life without
parole in Louisiana State Penitentiary. My name is Aaron Brent and I'm serving
life in Louisiana. My name is Michael Doggett and I'm serving life without
parole in state of Louisiana. My name is Tommy Franklin and I'm serving life in Louisiana. My name is Sabrina parks and I'm doing life in Louisiana.
My name is Aubrey Sikes and I'm serving life in Louisiana. My name is Sandra Starr
and I'm doing life in prison in Louisiana. My name is John Richard and I'm doing life in Louisiana. Basically what we do in here is we
furnish the clothes for all the main prison and cellblock inmates in this
location. They're eligible to get certain items every 90 days some some things
that can only get every six months and and they turn in a list and we fill it and
send it to him. I came here I had just turned 24 when I got arrested on my
charge and by the time I got to Angola I was 25 had just turned 25 and been
here ever since and haven't spent a night away from here
almost almost 38 years now. Believe me I'm a whole lot different
now from what I'm … my attitude when I first come here
I hated authority and I resisted authority. I was rebellious. I guess it's
the thing of you mellow out with age but as you get older in life you learn life's
lessons too and it's just wrong to keep somebody too locked up past a certain
point. Past a certain point it just becomes torture. You look at the guys
that's laying up in the medical dorms right now. Some of them been locked up over 50 years. That makes no sense to keep these
guys locked up. I came the Angola when I was 19 years old. This
particular incident happened in 1976. I was young, dumb, stupid, naive, and I wanted to be have a
reputation. It was pretty rough when I first come here. Real rough. It was real
… we call it off the chain. One of the changes reason why I changed because one of my best friends end up getting sick, and he end up dying. That
what made me get involved with the health care program. All I try to do now is give love and respect to everybody. You know it's just like like the patient's I got
in here now. You know it's like if you got a patient friend in here
and you pass down that walk every day every other day you're gonna come in
here and you're gonna visit your friend every so often you're gonna bring your
friend something to eat and but you got a patient that next to them and one
that's right across from him that don't have nobody. So why you feeding that particular
patient those two got to act like they asleep or they doing something
because they hungry. So what I do I go out and I talk to the different clubs I go
talk to the different churches and stuff like that, and I let them work with
me and they'll give me food enough to feed all the patients. And when I bring a
smile on those patient's face it does me all the good in the world. It helps my heart and like I say
say you know it's a passion with me with these patients. I love them to death. They're like my kids and I'd do anything for them. My mom raised us as a single mom. I'm the oldest. In my home it was a lot of abuse. I went into a dark place and couldn't come
out. So I started to rebel in all manners. I got with the wrong crowd so I did messin with drug dealers … fell in
love with one and had a little girl. Beautiful little girl and he turned out to be
abusive also and I felt that that was the perfect way to live life because
that's what I saw and if he didn't hit me he didn't love me so. It got to the
point to where it got so severe I couldn't take it anymore so I fought
back and when I decided to fight back it became a tragedy which led me in prison with a life sentence. I've been gone for my kids for like 24 years. I left them when they were 4 and 7 so in my mind that's how I still picture them. That has been the
hardest part. I missed my daughter's graduation.
I miss my daughter's first boyfriend. Her first kiss. When she was hurt I wasn't
there to hold her. My son when nobody would listen to him … the world he ran to the world for support because I wasn't there.
My greatest thing is I just want to sit down with my two grown children and just talk to them and tell them how much
that it was my fault. I was 27 years old and 27 days when
I got arrested. A year and a half or so later I was convicted of second-degree
murder and sent straight to Angola. I've been here since January of 1988. You
know there was a lot of violence going on around here and it wasn't as a
matter of fact my first day I woke up in Angola I woke up sat up my bed and
watch somebody get stabbed. And I'm saying wow where am I?
You know what kind of place is this? So it was it was definitely a mental
journey that I had to take. I grew up in a very strict household there wasn't a lot of time for playing we went to school came
back from school we had chores. My dad was a commercial fisherman for a while.
He did things and he needed help I was the eldest in the family so I primarily
helped out with responsibilities of providing for the family. Bait all the
trout lines picking up and running all the hoop nets and hunting fishing. Whatever we needed to do to put food on the table. But I love school. I love learning. I love the experience of learning new things. My days are extremely full.
I tutor for the GED Department, and we use the stars to motivate
the guys in the class. A lot of these guys couldn't read and write when they
were when they came here and they worked their way all the way up to here and now
they have their GED it's an accomplishment that you know helps build their
self-esteem and help them you know to become better people.
I'm not even close to the same person I was when I came here
not even close. Um first and foremost you know a place like this makes you look at
yourself for who you really are compared to who you think you are. You know I realize that I hurt a lot of people with that one act that I committed and it wasn't just the victim it was my
family. I had three sons out there they had to grow up without me. You know the
community itself. I have a lot to pay back and I don't mind doing that because if I can stop just one senseless act like that from happening again I feel like I accomplished something. I had a pretty modest childhood. I grew
up in a two-parent household. My aspiration as a child was to be a
professional athlete. I wasn't very good in sports but my aspiration like most
kids you know I wanted to be on TV and I want to be in the spotlight. I wanted to make my family proud and I wanted to be somebody when I grew up. When I was arrested I
was 18 years old. It was a pretty traumatic experience all things considered that I never been incarcerated before. I'd never been any
type of trouble before and one bad decision I took my thinking cap off one
time ultimate left me and the court system while the sentence to life in
prison and it was completely different paradigm shift that transpired because I
was still young a teenager and the culture that I grew up in said that
we needed to focus on social skills and I was thrust into environment that was
predicated more on survival skills so it was a conflict of interest in what I've
grown up to know. Well I've changed dramatically over the course of the last 23 years because I began to start focusing on becoming a better person. I
work here in Interfaith Chapel. The hardest part of my job is I also have to deliver death messages which I had to do two this morning and you can never really
truly prepare yourself to have to sit down with a brother and tell him
that they lost someone that they love. So in 2007 I created a ministry called
Malachi Dad which is a father ministry and I'm proud to say that to date it's in
200 plus prisons across the country and five other countries. All from a vision
that God gave me to create an organization that's gonna be therapeutic
for men to come together and discuss their weakness and failures as a father. Parole eligibility would mean hope. It would mean redemption. It means an opportunity for men to
go back and be fathers, sons to go back and be a caregiver to their parents. You know there's people that's been here for thirty plus years. Now these people don't
have an ounce of vindictiveness on also of violence in them anymore. They've
outgrown that they're well beyond that and they know that they owe the
community. They owe. We can change you know and all we want to do is show that we have changed. If the public will accept us we'll be able to go out there and show them that we made a change. See right now I would like the opportunity to go out there and
speak to some of those youth homes some of them places where the youngsters are at. You know and restructure their thoughts about the way they are living in the street so they wouldn't come here.
Angola is not gonna I'm gonna let you know this Angola ain't the place to be.
But it'll teach you a lesson and I'm just sorry that I had to come to Angola to learn
the lesson that I learned today. A totally different person
than the person that was arrested. Today it's not about me. Before I thought it was just about me
but everything we do in life is not about us, it's for the next person. So give me a second chance is giving me a chance to provide for my family. The notion that a criminal
is a criminal for life I think is false The statistics show that and I
think people can change. Those in other states that have gotten out on the same
crimes that we have been convicted of here in Louisiana have shown they've
changed they've gotten out and stayed out and been a productive member of
society and I would like to be given that opportunity. Give us a chance. I want to start a new life. Contrary to what people may believe or whatever perception they might have of people who are confined I like to say to this gated community
that rehabilitation does actually exist in here and basically life
without parole is not a life sentence it's a death sentence.
It's like a slow death. Like I said earlier, I strive every day to be a better person today than I was yesterday and hopefully tomorrow I'll be a better
person than I was today.
4,800 people are serving life without parole in Louisiana.
That’s more than the number of people serving life without parole in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas – combined, according to a 2017 report by the Sentencing Project.
Louisiana is one of only two states in the country that has a mandatory life sentence without parole for second-degree murder.
To address laws like this that made Louisiana the incarceration capital of the world, a Justice Reinvestment Task Force reviewed the state’s policies and recommended a number of changes aimed at reducing the prison population, saving tax dollars and improving public safety.
As the recommendations worked their way through the Louisiana Legislature, 10 bills passed, but the language that would give people serving long sentences like Starr an opportunity to share their stories with a parole board was left on the cutting room floor.
The legislation would have extended parole eligibility to those who have served 20 years and are reaching age 45 and would have made most lifers eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison and reaching age 50.
Read more about those serving #LifeinLouisiana: