Larry White spent 32 years in prison for robbery, second degree murder, conspiracy. When he was released on parole he fulfilled an old prophecy. Today he is a consultant and runs a program to help inmates to cope within the prison system
Larry White still remembers the time when he grew up in a ghetto-neighborhood in New York City. As a small kid he used to stick-up the A&P supermarkets in his area. “I didn’t have any plans other than you make money and you hassle,” he said. Then, one day back in 1975, when he was in his forties Larry, with a group of acquaintances, organized a heist in a cinema, just off Times Square: it should have been an easy $80.000 hit, but everything when wrong and two security guard were killed by Larry’s partner. The cinema was featuring the film “The Getaway” in which Steve McQueen plays the role of a prisoner who despite being refused parole regains the liberty thanks to the intervention of a partner. In return for his help the partner wants support for one last bank heist. The big sign on the cinema was a presage for Larry's life. Arrested, White was sentenced to 25-to life. While still at Rikers Island, he tried to escape cutting the bars of his cell but the attempt failed and he went back to prison. He became a model prisoner, working as an editor at the prison newspaper and attending all the rehabilitation programs. Not enough for three parole boards: despite a record of excellence for three times White was denied the possibility to be reintegrated into society. Finally, in 2007, White regained his freedom. Today he is a consultant and runs a program to help inmates to cope within the prison system and to prepare them for the parole board hearings.
I go to parties, I go to places where people be enjoying themselves, and I started out enjoying myself. Then all of the sudden an emptiness comes. It is almost as if… I am looking around and people popping their hands and all that shit…. and it just drains. The truck came in, the two guards came in, and it was bright, bright sunny day like this, but when they came in and the doors closed they couldn’t see, so we said “listen! Just stick up, drop the shotgun, both of them had shotguns. So they looked around, I guess they panicked, when they lifted up the shotguns… my partner opens fire on them. You know shot them and they scream and stuff fell on the ground….. ahhhhhh If I was to tell you that shit that people do in that cell, when you are in there alone. It was times when I would think I would loose my motherfucking mind in there man. You know the same shit everyday over and over and over. I used to get up at 2 o’clock in the morning and I got in the habit to do that inside, and I still do that here man, you know. I get up 2 o’clock in the morning and I walk, back and forth from the center to the bars. And I’d walk for hours, for miles, just walking and thinking. And I spent 32 years in that cell. I grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a real, real ghetto neighborhood, you know? And there was no jobs and stuff I just stick up, that’s all I did. I didn’t have any plans other than just, you know, you make money and you hustle and you know that fashionable shit hanging out with other hustlers and stuff, you know? When I was a small kid, living in the ghetto, I was living with my grandmother. My mother died when I was two. She used to grow roses and things in the backyard. I remember one Saturday, early in the morning, the sun is out like this but this is October, when the time comes. I went out in the backyard I had my sweater on, just to sit in the sun and I went out in the yard, she is out there and I see her crying. I had never seen her crying she was a jolly woman. What are you crying about? She said look, look at my roses: my roses has gone. It was October! There was one rose left, a little dark, purple rose. She said “all my roses have gone, they died out.” She says: “see that rose there? That’s the only one left. That’s what you gonna be, you gonna be a late bloomer. Of all of my children and grandchildren you are the only one giving me trouble, but you’re gonna be a bloomer, you are gonna come to your own but it will be late life.” I’m 82, I’ll be 82 years this year, and I am a consultant. And I have never been to and none of that shit. But I know that shit better then anybody out here, and they know I know it. I would have never learned if I never went to prison. I am old now and my body tells me I don’t have too long. I’ll tell you the truth: there used to be a time when I was afraid of dying, but now I’ll be glad when it comes ‘cause I haven’t be happy since I’ve been on this earth, ain’t no life, ain’t happy out here.
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