In June 2016, Andrew Hundley became the FIRST juvenile lifer in Louisiana to be paroled following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Miller and Montgomery decisions that prohibited the mandatory sentencing of children to life without parole. It was clear that he was not the same 15-year-old who went to prison in 1997 to the parole board who approved his release.
Since his release from Angola, Andrew has earned a Masters degree in Criminology, is founder of the Louisiana Parole Project and is known in all circles of justice as the real life Andy Dufrane.
Whatever side of this issue you sit, you will not want to miss this episode.
In this episode of Bloody Angola Podcast Woody and Jim sit down with him for an in depth interview you are not going to believe on Bloody Angola Podcast.
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SECOND CHANCES PART 1 FULL TRANSCRIPT
Jim: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another edition of Bloody-
Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.
Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prison.
Jim: And I'm Jim Chapman.
Woody: I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: We always tell them we're going to give him something different, right?
Woody: Something different and all aspects of Angola, from the good to the bad, from the most horrible to the most uplifting. I think today it certainly qualifies as probably the most uplifting episode.
Jim: I would definitely agree with that.
Woody: It's been totality. Born out of tragedy, it's basically a daily miracle.
Jim: You've got that right. Brace yourself because this story will get you. As a matter of fact, I do want to mention before we even get started that the way I met this gentleman was through P2P, which is another podcast. Scott Huffman's been on our show.
Woody: Penitentiaries 2 Penthouse, y'all.
Jim: Yes. Met this gentleman through them and was just absolutely blown away by his story. He's agreed to come on today and tell it and talk about the great things he's doing with his second chance. We want to welcome you, Andrew Huntley, to Bloody Angola.
Andrew: Thank you for having me.
Woody: Andrew, I told you just briefly before we started, I want the people to know who you are, good, bad, and indifferent, but the world needs more people like you. Everybody knows I'm an old homicide detective and you'd think I'd be all hard ass on prison stuff like that, but I'm not. I believe in people and people's stories. Tell me where you grew up and then just tell you story. I'm going to interrupt you a lot and ask a lot of questions because if I don't, it'll just slip my brain.
Andrew: Sure. In 1981, I was born at Opelousas General Hospital.
Woody: Opelousas got some--
Jim: Cajun Country.
Woody: Really, yeah.
Andrew: My parents lived in Eunice, but I guess-
Woody: The home of the Purple Peacock.
Andrew: -Opelousas had the best local hospital at the time and that's where my mom wanted to deliver me. Grew up middle son, older sister, younger sister to loving parents and grew up in Eunice and just had the normal life of a kid from Cajun Country.
Woody: I probably passed you a couple of times on my way to the Purple Peacock.
Woody: I'm a lot older than you are.
Jim: Well, and I can hear even in your voice, you've got that kind of accent. My wife's family is from Arnaudville area, so I kind of pick up of that Opelousas slang, I guess you could say, from your childhood. And growing up, just normal?
Andrew: Normal childhood. I was a good student athlete, loved to play basketball, loved to hunt with my dad.
Jim: Yeah, tall guy. You're what, 6'3"?
Andrew: 6'3", whenever I was 12 13 years old.
Andrew: Thought I was going to be 7ft tall and just had my growth spurred early.
Jim: Yeah. All the basketball coaches were like, "Oh, yeah, you're playing basketball."
Andrew: Just had a normal childhood. Whenever I turned 15 years old, it was a summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school and starting to grow up and starting to want to experience different things. For the first time in that summer, I had a pretty quick burnout. I've got started hanging around with different people, started using drugs, started drinking more. Went pretty quick.
Jim: Yeah, that's a pivotal time.
Woody: Sure. I was pretty hardcore. [crosstalk]
Jim: Well, I mean--
Woody: It's a growth stage. Your brain is not mentally fully developed.
Jim: And everything is going crazy at that time in your life. I mean, hormones, questions. Fitting in is a big thing at that point in everybody's life.
Woody: You certainly experiment with different things that you really don't have any fucking clue of what could happen.
Jim: Yeah. Everything's kind of rocking and rolling, but you start going down this path, maybe just at that point.
Andrew: July of 1997, 15 years old, worst night of my life. Out with friends earlier that night. The night ends with me killing a 14-year-old. That was the first and only time I ever did PCP in my life.
Woody: Ugh. Yeah. [crosstalk]
Andrew: Didn't know what I was putting in my body. A brother of a friend of ours gave us a joint laced with it. I smoked it. Just what I can say is I've never felt the way that I've felt that night and never experienced the rage that I felt that night. And I ended up taking someone's life. It's a crime that I continue to be remorseful and ashamed of. I look back and I don't even recognize the person I was that night. When I committed the crime, I take full responsibility for it, and I'm ashamed of the way it transpired. I recognize that I caused great harm, not only to Terry Pete and her family and the community, my family. And as often say, I learned in prison to think of crime as a rock hitting a body of water, and there's a ripple effect, and the ripple affects so many people. What I did is I threw a boulder into a small pond, and that pond will never be the same.
Jim: Wow, that's a great analogy.
Woody: And I talk about it all the time. We always say our hearts go out to the victims' families, etc. But you know what? And they do. What most people don't realize, and I've had to deal with it over the years, is the offenders' families get destroyed also, and everybody who loves everybody, on both sides.
Andrew: I can tell you that I was arrested the evening after it happened. Cops, homicide detectives come to my house, knocking on the door and tell my parents, "We need you to bring your son to the police station." My parents are thinking, "What does Andrew know about something someone else did?" And I remember--
Jim: Yeah, there was never a thought of, "He did something."
Andrew: "He did something."
Jim: "He knows somebody that did something," basically.
Andrew: I think initially, I'm going into the police station and I'm telling myself, "I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to say anything." And then, I have this moment where I tell myself, "I'm going to tell them what happened," We get into the room where the interrogation is going to be, and I tell the cops, "Please have my mom leave the room," because I didn't want my mom to hear what I was about to say. And I feel horrible, I put all that pressure on my dad, who didn't know what I was about to say. After I confessed, it was my dad's job then to leave the room and tell my mom, who was angry because why the heck did her son tell her to leave the room? All of a sudden, my dad has to go tell her that Andrew's killed someone and he's arrested for murder.
Jim: Wow. Yeah. Just what you were talking about there, Woody. There's victims on both sides of that spectrum, and you came from a good family. Didn't sound like anything abnormal.
Andrew: No. I can't say that I'm the first person in my family to graduate college, but I am the first person in my family to go to the penitentiary.
Jim: Yeah. Well, there you go, definitely. So, you're 15, wrap your mind around that, first of all, folks.
Woody: Geez. For that time, it really-- I don't know what the numbers are because I was detective at that time, but I'm thinking that I was in law enforcement at that time. I can't really think of many people that we charged at 15 or sent to the big house. And then, most of them went to---[crosstalk]
Jim: They were charged as juvenile.
Woody: Juvenile life.
Jim: Was there a time where they were debating, "Should we charge him as a juvenile or an adult?" That sort of thing?
Andrew: My recollection is there was about a week that passed. The district attorney, and this was in Acadia Parish, brought it to a grand jury, and the grand jury chose to indict me as an adult for second-degree murder.
Woody: And then, I'm sure that is-- I hate to say in this case, but I'm sure we call an APE, an Acute Political Emergency also because of the outrage in the community of the crime. But it's certainly worth mentioning. I mean, they had to feel so strongly about it. It's not like you were running frequent flyer thug with him and then you just messed up. Then they really threw the book at you.
Jim: Yeah. I think it's important to mention the difference between a 15-year-old mind and a 25-year-old.
Woody: Yeah. Even though you were 6'3", your brain wasn't fully developed.
Jim: No. You actually have something, it's called a prefrontal cortex. Basically, for you listeners out there, it's the area that's located in the front of your brain. Science proves that this does not mature until the age of 25. Now, that prefrontal cortex is responsible for kind of your planning aspect of your brain and your executive functioning. Basically, what it means is your understanding of consequences is not as mature as a 25-year-old's would be with that prefrontal frontal cortex. While you know right from wrong and you understand right from wrong at 15 and all of us can think back to 15, most people don't grasp this consequence is going to dictate the rest of my life.
Woody: Yeah, but you got it--
Jim: Life seems like forever then.
Woody: Right. But you got to add into that PCP [crosstalk] worst shit ever made.
Jim: Never done it, but I've heard stories that made me not want to do it.
Woody: [crosstalk] -and you're right. You said you didn't recognize who you were that night. I've dealt with people who are on it and then when they were off it, totally different people.
Woody: You made your decision and she's no longer on the planet, but you are owning up to it.
Jim: That's right. I would ask you, you mentioned rage and you mentioned you didn't recognize that that wasn't a part of your personality per se. So, I would imagine before this took place, pretty laid-back guy, sounds like.
Andrew: I wasn't a guy that got in a lot of fights.
Jim: Well, at 6'3", many people didn't mess with you likely. [laughs]
Andrew: May throw elbows on a basketball court, but there's a referee there. So, no, I was a chill guy. I was a friendly guy and certainly wasn't exposed to violence at my home or in school. So, this was the first time I had struck somebody in my life.
Jim: Yeah. Wow.
Woody: Did you go to trial or--?
Andrew: Went to trial.
Woody: Because I would assume, I'm going to interrupt you, that they could come back and they're going to do you as an adult, if you're a teen, then you've got nothing to lose. Even though you confess, no defense attorney is going to plead their client to life in prison.
Andrew: That's right. And continue to be immature. There's this youthfulness and having an attorney which, looking back, not trashing him, I had to be held responsible for my actions. But I'm awaiting trial, I'm a teenager who's scared to go to prison. How do I beat the criminal justice system? How can I get off on trial? I was ultimately convicted of a jury and sentenced to the one sentence that Louisiana can give for second-degree murder. And that's mandatory life without parole.
Woody: That's right. We're going to get into that more later on. But I always say, a lot of other states, life doesn't mean life.
Andrew: That’s correct.
Woody: [crosstalk] -20 years, 30 years, whatever, they get a shot at parole. Louisiana, second degree, that's it and so--
Jim: Is Louisiana unique in that or--?
Andrew: Yes, Louisiana is an outlier, is the only state. The frequency in which we hand out the sentence certainly makes us an outlier. Other states, even in other southern states, judges have a discretion on, can they give you a low end where you either have an outdate or you have parole eligibility at some point.
Jim: Like a 25 to life.
Andrew: 25 to life, 30 to life, 40 to life. Louisiana, life means life.
Woody: Life means life.
Woody: There's no leeway, discretion, the judge or anybody else in this. You get it, you get it. That's why take it to trial, because you're praying. Only other deal would be, if they charge with first-degree murder and the death penalty is on the table as an option. They do that a lot of times just so they'll take the plea for life. That's the only way you're going to plead to life.
Andrew: I can tell you when the judge sentenced me after I was convicted, his words were, "I'm sorry for what I have to do, but the state of Louisiana only gives me one sentence that I can give you."
Woody: Let me ask you just a real hard question. If you can remember, you don't have to answer if you don't want to. When the judge was sentencing you, what's going on in that young brain of yours?
Andrew: I think part of what saved me and saved my mental health was that I was a dumb young kid whose brain wasn't developed.
Woody: Kind of living in the moment.
Andrew: And I had this youthful naïve mindset that, "Okay, they're saying life, and they're saying, 'Life means life,' but that can't be what it means. There's going to be some way I'll overcome this." What happens is after several years in prison, I mature. I find a way, I find a routine, I find purpose in my life while I was in prison. By the time my brain matured, and I recognized, "Wait a minute, everyone else here who is sentenced to life isn't going home," whenever the lightbulb finally went off that I'm likely going to die in prison, I had matured enough to the point where I could handle that.
Jim: Yeah, you had acclimated.
Andrew: I had acclimated. Whereas I think as a child, which I was still a child when I went to prison, a child who committed a monstrous act, but still a child and still a child's brain, I didn't accept and didn't quite comprehend what that life sentence would be. So, I think if I would have, I would have gone to prison a totally different person. And I think, not jumping the gun, but why we actually see this bucks conventional wisdom, people who go to prison, who get in trouble at a young age actually have a great propensity to change because they haven't finished developing. I think that's what happened in my case, was I didn't know what I was getting into, but once I started to develop, I attained this quality of life, attained skills that I didn't have. I rebuilt my life.
Woody: You did your time. You didn't let your time be you.
Andrew: No, I did my time.
Jim: Well, I'll tell you one thing with what you just said. What I'm hearing from that is when you're young and you get sentenced to a sentence like that, you haven't necessarily lived enough life to realize what you just gave up.
Jim: If you're 27 and you do that and you've got two kids and a wife and a job, and that happens, it's a totally different reaction in your mind.
Andrew: I'll tell you the guys that do the worst time are guys that have kids at home, guys that have a wife or a girlfriend, because their mind is on the outside. And the way to do time is to think about the inside. Don't think about the outside world. Think about the inside.
Jim: It'll drive you crazy.
Andrew: I'm telling you guys that have, especially young children or older children that are having their own problems and they feel helpless, those are the guys that don't do good time. Those are the guys that succumb to the environment.
Woody: It's crazy.
Jim: That's interesting as hell to me. And it makes all the sense in the world.
Woody: Yeah, because then you'd feel like you can't do for them, you can't protect them, or you let them down or whatever. So, you get sentenced, you go to prison. I've put a lot of people in prison. I've never put not a 15-year-old for life. What is it like when you go in and you get inside? I'm sure you went to Hunt's or somewhere first and got-- you tell me, what do you think? Especially, and I'm not being racist, this is the fact, the ratio of race or ethnicity, right? You go in as a young white male. Holy shit.
Andrew: I was scared to death. Watched enough TV to know what media portrays prison to be like. Heard enough about the Louisiana prison system to know how dangerous of a place it was. They actually started me off that-- I remember the warden, after I was sentenced, the warden and the sheriff coming in to talk to me. One thing, I have a really good attitude towards law enforcement, because law enforcement didn't put me in prison. Law enforcement didn't. I did. They were doing their job. And I had good interactions where I had a warden and a sheriff come in, and they were empathizing with me because they knew what I was about to get into. They come in and say, "Look, we're not supposed to say, but just want to let you know we're going to be putting you in a transport vehicle tomorrow and moving you to a state prison." I said, "Okay. Where am I going?" They said, "Well, we're bringing you to a place in Houma." I said, "Okay."
I knew whenever the van left the Parish prison, after a little while, I know what direction Houma is in, and we're going north. I'm scared to say anything, but then I asked the transportation officer, "Where are we going? I thought we're going to Houma." Said, "No, Homer."
Which is almost in Arkansas. I thought I was going south to the bayou somewhere, and we're going to north-- I didn't even know there was a Homer, Louisiana. They say, "Yeah, there's a state prison," and it's a four-hour drive from my home get there." I remember the warden of the facilities waiting on me. I remember, he gives me a speech, and he's waiting on me because I'm this kid that's going into his prison. He says, "Do you have any questions for me?" I said, "Yeah, should I look to start-- to fight as soon as someone messes with me?" I remember he says, "Man, if that's the attitude you have, you're going to get in fights. Don't look for fights," because I was waiting to just punch the first guy, because the advice I'm getting from these guys at the parish jail who now I realize, like, "None of these guys really did any time."
Woody: Yeah, exactly. They're messing with you.
Andrew: They're like telling me, "Man, you go find the biggest guy and you punch him out."
Woody: Right, knock him out.
Andrew: "And you get the respect." So, yeah, I was worried about getting raped. I was thinking I would have to fight to protect myself. While there, I can be honest with you, what helped me first going in there is the other guys who were there that went in as children, immediately came to me and took me under their wings. I can remember the first time I was thinking about getting a tattoo. I didn't have a tattoo when I went into prison. Today, I still don't have a tattoo, but I was about to get the first tattoo. A guy who was a juvenile when he got his life sentence and had been there for five years, and he had tattoos all over his arms, on his neck, and he told me, "Man, don't get it, because as soon as you get it, you're going to keep getting them. And look, they look like crap. The people are going to judge you. You have this image. Keep this image. Keep this golden image because that's what everyone looks at you and thinks you're square. Keep that image." And that impacted me giving, "Hell, this is a guy that's like me, that I can look up to." And I get it. If I wouldn't have taken that advice, I probably would have changed my image and I would regret having these horrible prison tattoos today.
Woody: That’s crazy.
Jim: And never got one?
Andrew: Never got one. I remember the first time that I got into conflict with a guy that I was scared of, and then listening to other guys saying, "I don't mess with that guy. He keeps iron buried on the yard." I had to ask, "What does that mean?" He has shanks out in the yard. So, I remember going to another juvenile lifer who had been there for about 10, 15 years and thinking-- I've known this guy for a couple of months. He's a welder. I go to him, I was like, "Hey, I need a piece of metal to have in case." I remember him telling me-- at no point had he ever shown any anger or aggression to me. He pulls me in close, and he says, "If you ever ask me anything like that again, you're dead to me. You're so stupid. If you get a weapon, you're going to use it."
Woody: Yeah, you're going to use the weapon. Absolutely.
Andrew: And it's like the same thing.
Andrew: I was like, "Okay." In that peer pressure, I looked up to these other guys that I realized had the same lived experience I had, and I didn't want to disappoint them. Early on, that's what kept me on the right track. Having these big brothers, it kept me insulated where people really didn't mess with me.
Jim: Yeah. Dang. And you did, you went in there, you had no idea what to expect. All you knew of was what you saw on TV, which is Hollywood a lot of times, but Homer was-- and how long were you in Homer?
Andrew: I was in Homer for my first few years before I transferred down south. Just if I can make one more point?
Jim: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: As far as the fear of being raped, which I think is like, any man goes to prison, no matter how big of a guy he is, he's scared of it because I've seen the biggest guy come in, and prison jargon get turned out.
Woody: I've seen it too. I'm ex-correctional officer also.
Andrew: And it's all psychological. I went in worried someone's going to try to penetrate me. I was there a few weeks, and I was like, "No one's trying to rape me. It's actually the opposite." They callewd me Tenderoni.
Andrew: It was like rose. They wanted me to have sex with them and not the other way around. And what I learned is, it's psychological. If I was strong enough not to get involved in the prison games-- and not to say that people aren't-- that there is violence in prison, there continues to be violence today. Although whenever I first went in 20 something years ago, it still was a more dangerous place than it is today. But what I learned early on, mind your business, don't get caught up in-- stay away from-- they tell you, stay away from another guy's old lady in prison. Don't get involved in inner relationships, if that makes sense. Don't get involved in gambling. Don't get involved, mind your business. And mostly that's true. I carried myself in a way that I think people didn't want to-- weren't looking for reasons to mess with me.
Jim: Yeah. From, I guess you'd say an administrative standpoint in prison, you probably kind of stood out versus your typical, what you would think of as convict. Even though you were young when you went in, you speak with an education.
Andrew: The first job I had was cleaning up. As a juvenile, they had me segregated in a unit. Actually, at this prison in Homer, which is David Wade Correctional Center, most police officers, corrections officers, high-profile people who get sent to DOC get sent to this unit at David Wade, and so that's where they sent me. It's actually the worst time I ever did. I think it's like a 50-man unit, all alpha personalities, and this kid shows up, and everyone has advice for the kid that shows up. The other juvenile lifers I was around were really good influences. Not so much some of the other people. The first job they gave me was at night because they didn't want me around the rest of the population. They had me going in the kitchen at night and cleaning tables and mopping.
After I did that for several months, I had a lieutenant came by and is actually a black man. As you said, most people in prison are black, and I was an outlier. I was a white kid, but didn't look even like the other white guys that were there. This lieutenant sees me, and I think he just saw something in me. One night, he stops me and says, "Do you know how to type?" Said, "Yeah, I know how to type." He says, "I got a job for you if you can keep your mouth shut." "I can keep my mouth shut." He got me a job as the clerk for the night shift security office. What I was doing was I was typing use-of-force reports, typing disciplinary reports, just typing occurrence reports for security that worked at night.
That was just this one officer that saw something in me and wanted to give me a chance, really affected me, because working around security, which is usually like a taboo thing, you don't work for the man. If you work for the man, you're a rat. I think people gave me leeway because they saw me as a kid that really didn't know a lot about it. But I learned from a security perspective how they think, how they see everyone. It helped me for the rest of my incarceration, where I understood, like, "Hey, if I'm dealing with a free man, I know better how they think. I know what their processes are." So, I was just really lucky early on having these privileges. Not just the way I looked, but opportunities that educated me about prison life.
Jim: Very. Very.
Woody: [crosstalk] -used so many different people, man. The best sides, even like the welder, you said, "Hey, dude, you'd be dead to me if you ever ask for that again." Then, the CO just made a little piece of Jesus and said, "Hey, give this kid a shot." And then, you're able to take that because at some point, I would assume probably after you're 21, they ship you. So, you're better prepared for where you go next, which is--
Andrew: Dixon Correctional.
Woody: That's where I worked at.
Woody: Of course, I trained at Angola, but Burl Cain was actually my warden. I ran the first rec room A, and then Burl Cain sent me to working cell blocks. I had two tiers of work, WCB, and then two tiers of admin seg.
Jim: Now you're headed there, and what's the thought process?
Andrew: Well, it's a new place. I asked to be closer to home, and still at that point trying to avoid Angola, but I end up at Dixon Correctional Institute and I'm there for several years. This was the point now, I'm in my early 20s and I'm maturing. I still have the immaturity that any 20-year-old has.
Andrew: But growing up, understanding more, got there, and there were a lot of programs. Got involved in Toastmasters, got involved in the boxing program.
Jim: We just did an episode on Etienne.
Woody: Etienne. I had him on my cell block on the WCB. We had a white guy from the LP that was the cellie.
Andrew: So, I realized I wasn't a boxer. What I was really good at was it was managing the team. And then, there's an association, a prison boxing association, so we would travel, and then I ended up getting the response. We'd weigh guys in, we'd match them up.
Woody: People don't understand how big the boxing program is.
Andrew: It's huge. There are guys out today, some of the guys have gotten out and not had the stardom that Etienne had, but we were able to box. It gave so many guys a different perspective and character.
Woody: Was it the same--? From Plaquemine who was the only contender? He was down. Actually, I think he was--[crosstalk]
Jim: Also a good boxer.
Woody: Yeah, he was a great boxer.
Andrew: Not Hasan Henderson.
Woody: No. Ah, man, I can't think of it--
Jim: From Plaquemine.
Woody: But anyway, he followed on the contender. I don't think he's followed in the last couple of years, but he was--
Andrew: Eric Johnson.
Woody: Eric Johnson. [crosstalk]
Andrew: Baby Faced Assassin.
Jim: Yes. That's it.
Andrew: So many of those guys that were successful, actually they were juveniles when they went in.
Woody: Right. He was a juvenile.
Andrew: Babyface and I started at Wade together.
Jim: Oh, come on.
Andrew: He came to DCI before me, I followed him. At DCI, they have a youthful offender program. 15-, 16-year-olds, not lifers. They had a warden there, Larry [unintelligible 00:35:37], assistant warden that was over the boxing team, and he was so smart. He'd go get these kids out the program and start training them. They were really raw, but they would listen to the trainers because they were kids.
Woody: And give them something to focus on besides the bullshit that's going on.
Andrew: Those guys, even the ones that come home, Eric, they may not be boxing today, but that gave them a pathway, something to do, positive energy, gave them discipline.
Jim: Hope. Before we go any further, I want to mention this because you can certainly speak to it, but Woody has mentioned this several times, as well as Kelly Jennings, who has her own podcast, but is a guest of ours frequently. That is the most important thing from an administrative standpoint to give to any prisoner, any convict, is hope. Because without that, you have no control.
Woody: It speaks to what he said earlier about the older people coming in with the families and the kids and stuff like that. They're focused on the outside. They're not focusing on anything positive. So, there's no hope.
Jim: Well, and one unique thing you did when you went to DCI, was you started getting involved in a lot of programs, and you mentioned Toastmasters. What is that for those--?
Andrew: Toastmasters, we say it's a leadership and communication organization. It helps you with public speaking.
Andrew: There are people who are terrified of speaking that get in it and learn how to speak. There are people like me who think that they're better speakers--
Andrew: -helps us refine our skill, not say as many uhs, try to disguise our accent sometimes. It just gave me an avenue to focus on. Like, all this time I'm taking college courses, I'm improving my education. I started working for the warden, and that gave me an opportunity, I say what I practice today, is servant leadership. I always try to think of my role as a leader as how can I help others? Not how society can serve me, but how I can serve others. And where I sort of developed that. I think I had that personality when I was a kid. But working for the warden, everyone always needs help in prison, and you were someone that could go, you can do like, "Hey, I don't get involved in it," or you can be a conduit, or you can be the shady guy who does favors and ends up getting in trouble and gets booted out.
I was a conduit, and I would help people, and I would help other young guys coming in. I would help old timers, and it's just something I was good at. The administration trusted me when I brought something that I wasn't trying to help someone.
Woody: You brought stuff that was legit.
Andrew: There wasn't personal gain for me. I think the long story short was that's where I developed the skill for what I do today. How can I use whatever influence I have to benefit people who need help?
Jim: Yeah. And it's a unique experience. I would even add to that at that time in your life, it was the education aspect not only that helped pass-- let's face it, pass the time, but also gave you hope that even though you were sentenced to life with no parole, I don't know if at this point it had clicked yet or if you were one of these people that always had that positive attitude that, "Hey, I'm going to appeal this or appeal that or something's going to change."
Andrew: When you get a life sentence, there's one mandatory appeal. And it happened. After it happened, I never filed another appeal.
Andrew: Just really early on. I look back and I was like, man, I did wise things. I don't know how wise I was then, but I made a lot of good decisions because if I would have got caught up with appeal, appeal, appeal, don't take responsibility. Because if you take responsibility, then you may not have a shot for a court to-- I just was like, "Man, I'm going to do my time and I'm going to figure-- I'm not going to worry about the BS."
Jim: Control what you can control.
Andrew: By that time, I really just want to say, like, "Hey, I don't want to be--" after being in prison for a really short time, like a couple of months, I saw a big difference between the guys that just were cynical, "The system messed over me, and I didn't do it."
Woody: Right. "They got me bad."
Andrew: "They got me bad." And the guys that were like, " I did what I did and I'm taking my lick." Those guys just seemed so peaceful. So, I was like, "I want to be one of those guys."
Woody: If you're focusing all your energy on the appeals and, "They got me bad," and all that, then you wouldn't have the energy to put all in the boxing program or working with the warden or the public speaking--
Andrew: College courses, educating myself.
Woody: Didn't you get like 40 hours there or something?
Andrew: Yeah, I ended up earning actually more than that, but I was able to eventually transfer 40 hours whenever I left prison.
Woody: Right. Let's say, yeah, it could've been--
Jim: Which is a heck of a start.
Andrew: Yeah, which is a heck of a start. I wasn't able to earn a degree, but thankfully, all those Englishes and maths.
Jim: All the stuff you don't want to take.
Andrew: Stuff you don’t want to take.
Woody: [crosstalk] they had a captive audience--[crosstalk]
Andrew: The guys that are stuck in the law library, and look, power to them because there are innocent people in prison. I get it. But that becomes a full-time job and an obsession. Those guys that go down that rabbit hole, they stay down that rabbit hole.
Jim: So, you're in DCI, and you're doing the right things, you're getting involved.
Andrew: One thing is when you're at with guys in prison, we call satellite camps, they're state prisons, they don't really make lifers trustees, especially young lifer.
Jim: Really? Okay.
Andrew: So, to be a trustee at Angola is a totally different criteria than being a trustee everywhere else.
Woody: Right. Angola is 10 years before you get considered, right?
Andrew: Right. But everywhere else, if you're a lifer, they're not making trustees at DCI, at Hunt. They're not making you a trustee based really on what your behavior is. It's based on how much time you have left because the thought process is short termers-
Woody: Have a less chance.
Andrew: -aren't going to escape. Long termers are going to escape. At Angola, everyone's a long termer.
Jim: That’s true.
Andrew: Going to Angola was an opportunity to become a trustee. After being at a couple of prisons but wanting to, okay, I want to feel like I'm free and everyone knows like, by that time I'm not scared of it-- I've done enough time where I'm like, "Hey, I can go somewhere and I can-- even to the bloodiest prison in America, I can go and figure out how to stay above the violence and to be involved in positive things." So, I knew going to Angola would give me the opportunity to be a trustee.
Jim: Now, before you went to Angola, wasn't there a point where you worked for the Louisiana State Police Headquarters?
Andrew: Yes. I was at state police headquarters for a few years, I actually worked at the JESTC facility.
Woody: Yeah, that's the training-- retired from the state police.
Andrew: Yeah. So, I worked at JESTC. Worked for the administration.
Woody: Did you stay at the barracks at the JESTC?
Andrew: I stayed at the barracks.
Jim: This is a great story, by the way.
Andrew: Yeah. Got my only writeup that I had in my entire incarceration at the barracks, and it was an unauthorized female visitor.
Woody: [crosstalk] -I got to hear this.
Jim: If anything's worth a writeup, that is.
Woody: [crosstalk] Is that a high court?
Andrew: Yeah, that's a high court writeup. It's a rule 30. I forget the initial, but the rule is no unauthorized female visitors on the premises. People may say [crosstalk] at the office where I worked there was a female visitor. I was told, "Hey, you can't stay here." At that point, I knew-- well, after having been in satellite places, but I can't be a trustee.
Woody: JESTC is a state police training facility, but actually, they have like a hotel out there and stuff where they get all the federal employees to come in and train on everything from the postmasters to whatever they have, the high-speed driving track. It's a really impressive thing, but they make a lot of their money off these corporations and the feds pay so much for this. It's a world- class training facility. But I don't know how big the compound, I guess you call it the compound, but inside that is a mini prison. A satellite camp is what it's called. You can tell us about that.
Andrew: It's a dormitory. It's two dorms in one big building. If you imagine army barracks, keep that in mind and it's actually cubicles. These are state prisoners who are working for state police. A lot of them are mechanics, body shop guys.
Woody: Right. They do everything.
Andrew: It gives the state savings because you have convicts working on vehicles.
Jim: Yeah. You're not going to Jiffy Lube. [laughs]
Andrew: The guys that do the grass maintenance at the state police headquarters-
Woody: Right, that’s what I was.
Andrew: -the electricians, [crosstalk] carpenters.
Woody: Even the automotive guys at state police headquarters used to service my units. It was convicts.
Andrew: The guys who work at the governor's mansion, live at the state police barracks. You got a guy who works at the airport for taking care of state police's helicopter. And then, I worked for the commander, which was the equivalent of the warden doing administrative stuff, still doing what I'm good at, helping other guys.
Woody: Corey Holmes, his dad has been out there for like 39 years and I can't think of his daddy's first name because I'm--
Woody: John Holmes. Yeah--
Andrew: Chris, sorry. Chris.
Woody: Corey is a twin and then their dad's been out there for like 39 years. I can see his face right now, but I'm bad with names. Did you know him? What did he do?
Andrew: He's a lieutenant. He's a supervisor out there at the barracks.
Woody: Sorry, at the house. Yeah.
Jim: In my mind, obviously, I don't have your experience. I don't have Woody's experience, so I have the general listeners' experience. I'd ask this question, which is, okay, you've got police and convicts and they're working side by side. How was that relationship? Was it like a normal type thing that you would have with anybody you worked with, or was it-- I mean, I'm sure you had your assholes just like anywhere.
Andrew: No. Surprisingly, there's a lot of respect on both sides. One, it's a zero-tolerance place, obviously. So, if you screw up, you're going to be going. But troopers are pretty professional.
Woody: I always said this, whatever you're in for, your job, even as a correctional officer, is not to punish them for what crime they did on the outside. It's to keep society safe, keep them from escaping and doing whatever. You're not there to punish them. To me, and I know I wasn't doing the kind of time you all were doing, especially when I was a CO, but you're there 12 hours a night and a lot of times, 30 times a month because you're shorthanded. But I developed relation. You're not supposed to, but as long as they gave them respect, I gave them respect. Actually, I say this to the day I die, a lot of the convicts-- and there's difference between convict and inmate. A lot of the convicts were better than some of the free people at work.
Jim: What's the difference between convict and inmate?
Woody: An inmate is a young buck that started doing all the trouble, doing the fights, the drugs, the rapes and stuff, like you could tell.
Andrew: Yeah. Convict is the guy--
Woody: Convict's down doing their time.
Andrew: Convict's doing time. He understands how to do his time. He understands how not to get involved in the BS.
Woody: They don't want anything to interrupt the routine, or you could take away the privileges, right?
Andrew: Right. Yeah. Most guys who've been at Angola for a long time, they've been on the same job for a long time because it's all about routine. He's probably been working for the same free man for a long time. They have respect. You don't want change. You want to know every morning when you wake up because when guys first went to Angola, they don't know what's going to happen. There's turmoil. They want that peace of mind. That's what most of your convicts are trustees because they figured out how to get the best quality of life possible, even while they're doing a life sentence.
Woody: That's why I told you before, if you get a young CO or whatever goes down, search is a part of prison life but there's a different way you do it. If you're going in a foot locker and you're dumping out all their shit and disrespecting their shit, they're probably going to buck up. If you do it, you got to do your job. If you do it respectfully, but you still do your job and you get that respect back. It's all about respect.
Jim: Love that. And I think what we can do, Andrew, we're at the point of the story where he's going in Angola.
Woody: Right. Like I told Andrew, ahead of time, I just want to get in there and get behind the microphone because you never know what's going to come out. This episode has been absolute fire. Andrew has agreed--
Jim: To do a second episode on the spot. We put the pressure on him.
Woody: You haven't heard anything yet. I got [unintelligible [00:50:47] right now talking about it.
Jim: Yeah. We haven't even got into the amazing part.
Woody: You've got to hear what's coming next. It's fire. We hope it will open your hearts and minds to the work that's being done and the goodness that's coming out of horrible tragedies.
Jim: That's right.
Woody: And so, stay tuned for Part 2.
Jim: Part 2.
Woody: We got to give a name for it.
Jim: Yeah. What do we-- [crosstalk]
Woody: What are you thinking of the name, Andrew?
Andrew: Our tagline at parole project is "Believe in Second Chances."
Woody: All right. We would call it that.
Jim: I like that.
Woody: Second Chances?
Jim: Yeah. Second Chances.
Woody: Y'all, we're going to name this episode Second Chances, and stay tuned for part 2 of Second Chances.
Jim: And until next time, I'm Jim Chapman.
Woody: I'm going to say thank you, Andrew.
Jim: Yes. Thank you, Andrew. Appreciate you.
Woody: Thank you for staying there for the next one, which we're doing right now. He's Jim Chapman and I'm Woody Overton.
Jim: Your host of Bloody-
Jim: A podcast 142 years in the making.
Woody: The Complete Story of America's Bloodiest Prisons.
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