Parole Project clients and LSU students having a discussion panel on the Parade Grounds

LSU Student Reflects On How An Encounter With Parole Project Clients Renewed Her Outlook On Life

Cherishing Life through the Stories of Others
by Charity Williams

The prospect of losing one’s autonomy is a possibility absent to the minds of most college students. Even further remiss is the subsequent process of rehabilitation into an ever-changing, technology-driven society.
In a joint effort between the Tiger Prison Project (a campus organization geared toward restorative criminal justice and prison reform) and the LSU NAACP chapter, students were able to meet with current clients of the Louisiana Parole Project. In addition to sharing their experiences while incarcerated, they recounted the beneficial habits and self-reflection that led to their current status as rehabilitated members of society.

The panel consisted of several clients who were recently granted parole. They spoke with the group about the importance of making the most of the time that you’re given and never losing hope. When completing a scavenger hunt of campus landmarks, we were able to speak more intimately with the clients and staff, many of whom were also formerly incarcerated. They were able to openly share their stories as tales of transformation and redemption. Walking across campus they shared feelings of renewed hope and ambition.

These sentiments were echoed in our time of reflection when the students were granted the opportunity to record all we had gained from the experience. What stuck with me the most was hearing the clients reflect on aspects of their freedom that we often take for granted, such as spending time with family and in nature.
As the sun set on our time together, we gained a new appreciation and admiration for the world and people around us. Amidst a global pandemic, we were able to grow closer and connect in unexpected ways. As students, we were grateful for the time and stories of those around us, and I learned that it was never too late to change the course of your life. And more importantly, never let the exterior impact your interior.

Photo caption: Parole Project clients and students from LSU’s Tiger Prison Project and the campus chapter of the NAACP share experiences at a discussion panel on the Parade Grounds at Louisiana State University