Inmates learn from mistakes, eagar to curb violence

Inmates learn from mistakes, eagar to curb violence
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POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 3:15pm

UPDATED: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 3:19pm

Inside a Louisiana prison, several inmates told WDSU that they are eager to return home after learning hard lessons behind bars.

WDSU visited Rayburn Correctional Center in Angie, La. and spoke to three inmates originally from New Orleans.

The three were convicted in violent crimes and have been in prison for at least 10 years.

Inmate Charles Edward Boyd said he and other inmates know about the violent crime and high homicide rate even behind bars.

“I lived there, my family is there,” Boyd said. “It's sad when I’m in prison and my fear, and my biggest concern I guess you could say that my objective is to get my kids out of New Orleans.”

In prison, the inmates said they lose certain rights like privacy and the rules are strict. However, some said that in these conditions, they can find the best in themselves.

“Guys need to think. Make better decisions. My offense happened overnight. and I didn't think,” Boyd said. “Split-second decision changed my life. I got sentenced to 50 years. I've done 18 years on that. So it's not a game.”

Warden Wayne Cook said he is behind the push for more education in the facility and enjoys seeing the men learning.

“It's really good to see men that have a degree and they are going to be encouraging their children and make something of their lives, and not get involved in the life of crime that they had before.”

Inmate Garry Jones said the crime is not worth it, no matter how small.

“Don't do it. It just takes a brief second to get into trouble, and another 20 years to get out of it,” Jones said.

Cornell Martin, an inmate said that people can lose, not just with the law, but miss out on living life.

“I used to be on the same corners doing the same crimes,” Martin said. “If you are like 25 years old, and you commit a crime, and you get 50 years, that is some serious stuff. You will never see the streets again. You are most likely going to die behind bars.”

Boyd said the time he has spent in jail has given time to reflect on the wrongdoings he’s committed.

The three men said they have turned their lives around in prison. Two have college degrees and have learned multiple languages.

Martin is an American sign language interpreter, and like Jones, he earned an associate's degree.

Boyd will soon earn a degree, too, through the prison college programs.

The education is a big part in the rehabilitation process. Cook said that getting an associate's degree reduces recidivism to 14 percent, and that a bachelor’s degree cuts to under 6 percent. Cutting the violence in the prison was tough, Cook admits. He said to reduce the violence on both inmates and staff, he brought in inmate chaplains who used to be some of the most dangerous inmates in Angola.

With the crime in New Orleans and finding education in prison, Boyd, Martin and Jones said they hope to apply in the street the lessons they learned achieving release for good conduct. “Healing a city is like healing a body,” Jones said. “You start from the inside and once you start healing the inside, you'll see the results on the outside.”

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