Andrew carries many titles: non-profit organization leader, coalition member, mentor, advocate, and college graduate. But it was not that long ago when he carried the label “juvenile lifer.”
That changed in August 2016 when Andrew became the first of Louisiana’s juvenile lifers to be released after the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana prohibited the mandatory sentencing of children to death by incarceration. The state Board of Pardons and Parole recognized that Andrew was not the same 15-year-old that went to prison in 1997.
In prison he completed numerous educational programs and college courses before becoming a peer facilitator for rehabilitative and pre-release classes. He also served as president of the Kisatchie Jaycees, recognized as the top institutional U.S. Junior Chamber club during his term.
Andrew joined Toastmasters International while incarcerated and served as a club president, area and division governor, and district secretary. He earned the Distinguished Toastmaster designation, the organization’s highest individual achievement, and was the only incarcerated member to have been named a District Toastmaster of the Year and Division Governor of the Year.
In August 2016, just months after his release, Andrew co-founded the Louisiana Parole Project with attorneys Keith Nordyke and Robert Lancaster to help the nearly 300 men and women in Louisiana who, like him, were sentenced to life without parole for a crime they committed when they were children. Andrew was also President & CEO of Reentry Benefiting Families before it merged with Parole Project in 2018. He earned an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice from Baton Rouge Community College and received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in criminology from LSU in May 2019.
“When I left prison, I left behind people who are no less deserving of the opportunity I was given,” Andrew explained. “Our mission isn’t simply to gain freedom for men and women who have turned their lives around. We want to ensure they have the skills and prospects to reach their greatest potential upon release.”
Kerry’s track to an award-winning journalism career began in college as a journalism and communications major at LSU and Nicholls State University. He has extensive experience in print, radio and television media. Kerry began working with Parole Project as a volunteer in 2017 to help with media relations. In addition to his work as deputy executive director, he continues to produce as a freelance journalist and is active in Louisiana’s criminal justice reform efforts, working with advocates and policymakers who believe smart reforms enhance public safety to enact much-needed change in his state.
In April 1990, Kerry was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he, his family, the victim’s family, and the investigating detective maintain he did not commit. Five years after arriving at the Louisiana State Penitentiary Kerry was hired as a staff writer for nationally-acclaimed Angolite magazine.
He was named editor in 2001 and, under his direction, the iconic magazine remained true to its mission to inform, educate and enlighten its readers about the world of criminal justice and prison in a way mainstream media could not or would not. The magazine’s reporting on the death penalty earned national recognition with the Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award in 2007. In 2011, Kerry won the PASS Award for Journalism (now called the Media for a Just Society Award) from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for the magazine’s coverage of juvenile life without parole sentences. During his tenure, The Angolite also won three APEX Awards of Excellence for Magazine and Journal Writing and was a finalist for several other national journalism awards. Kerry’s 2011-2012 three-part series on the history of women in the Louisiana penal system received critical acclaim. Taking on subjects like human trafficking, aging, Alzheimer’s and dementia in prison, sentencing, pardons and parole policy and more, the magazine became a resource for many top criminal justice and law programs in the country.
In September 2013, Kerry received a unanimous recommendation from the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole to commute his sentence. Governor Bobby Jindal left office in January 2016 without taking action on his and dozens of other recommendations. Ten months later, the board unanimously reaffirmed his recommendation. Three days before Christmas 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards signed Kerry’s commutation and he was immediately released.
Jane Hogan is an attorney from Hammond, Louisiana, who specializes in criminal post-trial procedures that includes post-conviction petitions and parole and clemency hearings. She spent three years as a public defender before joining the LSU Law Center Parole and Reentry Clinic as a supervising attorney. Jane has worked with student attorneys to secure early release on parole for dozens of clients. In 2019 she was named legal director of the nonprofit Louisiana Parole Project where she represents individuals sentenced to life in prison who have served 25 years or more at their parole hearings.
Steven Amort was born an American citizen in Nicaragua and, from age eight, was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served in the United States Navy in the aviation ordinance filed, rising to become a non-commissioned officer with the rank of Petty Officer Second Class (E-5).
After the military, Steven worked as a fleet service clerk from 1988 to 2004 with American Airlines. From 2004 to 2014, within the Louisiana Department of Corrections, Steven worked as a tutor, held the position of Commander to the Incarcerated Vets program, and was an honorary member of Toastmasters International. He held the position of reentry clerk within the Department of Corrections for eight years and, during that time, had what he called the great honor to work under reentry pioneer and prison ministry founder Michael Ellerbe, who became his mentor and ultimately a dear friend.
After Ellerbe’s unforeseen and untimely passing, Steven began working for Reentry Benefitting Families as an instructor and case worker. In 2014 he became director of reentry programming at Pointe Coupee Detention Center before becoming Parole Project’s reentry director when the two organizations merged in 2018.
Steven was honored by the Capital Area Reentry Coalition in 2015 for his outstanding reentry work in the community.
Ashleigh began her career in reentry and paralegal services as an intern for Reentry Benefiting Families (RBF) in January of 2016. Her paralegal training includes legal research and writing with a focus on family and criminal law. After earning a paralegal studies degree in May of the same year, she was hired on as RBF project coordinator. Ashleigh brings a uniquely diverse set of experiences and educational credentials to Parole Project and is well suited to successfully take on the wide variety of duties associated with her position. In addition to administrative organization and file management, her skillset includes community outreach, grant writing, volunteer relations, membership campaigns and webpage management. Ashleigh is also certified to facilitate Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) groups. MRT is a systematic treatment strategy that seeks to decrease recidivism among criminal offenders by increasing moral reasoning and empathy awareness.
Ashleigh has a BA in Social Work and experience as a drug and alcohol counselor and an intake specialist in a mental health hospital. She earned an MFA in Theatre from Western Illinois University that led to positions as program director and education coordinator for a performing arts company where she gained extensive experience in the nonprofit sector. After her first round of graduate school, Ashleigh began a seven-year stint as a Ph.D. student and adjunct instructor at LSU while simultaneously earning her teaching certificate and working as an educator in both public and private schools.
However, it is Ashleigh’s life experience that led her to a career in reentry services. She not only understands what it means to have your entire life put into the hands of the criminal justice system, but she also knows the power and grace of a second chance.
A Baton Rouge native who lives with her husband and daughter in Mid-city, Ashleigh began her position as Parole Project administrative director in January 2018.
New Orleans native Louis Gibson was 17 years old when he was sent to prison for life, becoming one of the more than 300 people in Louisiana sentenced to death by incarceration for crimes committed when they were children.
While incarcerated and without hope of release, Louis began his path to redemption by earning a GED and a diploma in Culinary Arts. He became actively involved in the AA 12-step program, Drama Club, and Literary Arts to round out his education and skill set. Following a thorough vetting Louis was selected for the highly-coveted Louisiana State Police Trusty Program, where for 11 years he worked in one of the most essential and important position — maintaining Louisiana State Police aircraft at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.
Made parole eligible through the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana, along with Act 277 of the 2017 Louisiana Legislature, Parole Project successfully advocated for Louis at his parole hearing in May 2018. He was release in August 2018 and became a client in our residential reentry and intensive reintegration program. About two months later he began working for Delta Media in Carencro, Louisiana, utilizing his technical skills before joining Parole Project as a reentry specialist in February 2019.
Goal driven and people oriented, Louis believes in the power of second chances and redemption because he has lived it.
parole project pro bono attorneys
Keith Nordyke, Attorney
Carol Greenfield, Attorney
LSU law school intern supervision
Robert Lancaster, Law Professor & Attorney
board of directors
Attorney; Adjunct Law Professor LSU Law School
Certified Public Account;
Commercial Dealer Services Manager for Hibernia/Capital One, Retired
Charles Geron “GG” Hargon
COO; Hibernia Bank & Trust, Retired
Dr. Mary Livers
Past President; American Correctional Association
Deputy Secretary; Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, Retired
Attorney; Nordyke & Greenfield
CEO; Mamou Health Resources
Attorney; Director of Clinical Education LSU Law Center
Founding Member and Managing Partner; Southern Strategies Group Louisiana Office
Partner; Haynie and Associates, Government Relations Consulting
Nancy Roberts, M.Ed.
Honorable Freddie Pitcher
Chancellor; Southern University Law School, Retired
Judge; Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals, Retired
Dr. Wesley T. Church, II
Director; Louisiana State University School of Social Work
© 2018 Louisiana Parole Project, Inc.