BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The LSU Law and Re-entry Clinic presented excessive sentencing in Louisiana with ex-convicts 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 prisoner, shared her story and plans to be the voice of the women she “left behind”.
“There are too many women who went through what I went through who are still being silenced in prison because they don’t realize they are victims who are still there,” she said.
Starr was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 for a relationship in which she was subjected to domestic violence.
“I had an abusive boyfriend and he was very, very abusive for about seven years. I made a choice to fight back which caused his life that could have been my life or his life but it was his life and it basically cost me my life as well because I’m going to a lifelong death because of my two children prison sentence was called.
After spending over 25 years in prison, Starr was able to get out in 2020 with help from the Women’s Prison Project and the Parole Project.
Now with freedom behind bars, she plans to stand up for those sentenced to life in prison for domestic violence.
“They have no one to stand up for them. They have no legal recourse, they have no one to fight for them and do the necessary paperwork they need to get back in court. They’re just stuck in the system, so I’m here to advocate for them. I hope and pray that someone will listen and decide to take their cases and help them,” Starr said.
In addition to sharing personal stories, LSU’s Law Parole and Re-entry Clinic director Robert Lancaster said it was important to showcase the issue of inmates in the state.
“It’s important to show that Louisiana sentences more people to life imprisonment than any other state. There is no link between life sentences and crime reduction. We keep people in prison all their lives if they are actually rehabilitated, they have a lot of potential, they pose no risk to public safety should they be released, and we would save the state a significant amount of money,” he said .
During the event, attendees also heard briefing sessions on Louisiana life sentence laws with panel discussions from policymakers and attorneys.
For more information on the Visiting Room Project click here and for more information on the Louisiana Parole Project click here.