BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – LSU Law and Re-entry Clinic showcased excessive sentencing in Louisiana with formerly incarcerated people and policymakers at its “Narratives of Life Sentences” events in collaboration with the Parole Project and the Visiting Room Project.
Sandra Starr, a former life sentence prisoner, shared her story and plans on being the voice of the women she “left behind.”
“There are too many women who went through what I went through, who are still silenced in prison because they don’t realize that they are victimized, that are still there,” she said.
Starr was convicted to life in prison in 1994 due to a relationship in which she suffered domestic violence.
“I had an abusive boyfriend, and he was very very abusive for like seven years. I decided to fight back which caused his life, which could’ve been my life or his life, but it was his life and it basically cost me my life as well because I was given a life sentence away from my two children,” she said.
After being in jail for over 25 years, Starr was able to get out with help from the Women’s Prison Project and the Parole Project in 2020.
Now with freedom behind bars, she plans on being an advocate for those who are life-sentenced due to domestic violence.
“They have no one to advocate for them. They don’t have any legal resources, they don’t have anyone to fight for them, and to do the necessary paperwork that they need to get back in court. They’re just stuck in the system so I’m here to advocate for them. Hoping and praying that someone will listen and decide to want to take their cases and want to help them,” Starr said.
Along with the sharing of personal stories, LSU’s Law Parole and Re-entry Clinic Director Robert Lancaster said it’s important to showcase the topic of incarcerated people in the state.
“It’s important to show that Louisiana incarcerates more individuals on life sentences than any other state. There’s no correlation of life sentences and the reduction of crime. We’re holding people in prison for the entirety of their life when they actually become rehabilitated, they have a lot of potentials, they will not be a public safety risk, should they be released and we would save the state a considerable amount of money,” he said.
During the event, attendees also listened to information sessions on laws pertaining to life sentencing in Louisiana with panels from policymakers and lawyers.
For more information on the Visiting Room Project, click here, and for more on the Louisiana Parole Project click here.