Non-violent offender walks free from Angola
ANGOLA- A man convicted on a burglary charge and sentenced to seven to ten years became the first man from Baton Rouge to walk free from Angola after completing a new court program that helps those re-integrate back into society.
The Re-entry Court program allows offenders sentenced from seven to ten years with a minimum of two years in custody to participate. Ezekiel James met that criteria and received automotive certifications in prison. He walked out just before 10 a.m. on Friday. As part of the program, spearheaded by Judge Trudy White, James already has a job lined up to use the skills he learned in prison.
"Men who had a tremendous amount of wisdom and counseled him and lifted him up, he feels self assured that he will never commit another crime," White said.
As James walked out of prison he was met with handshakes from those part of the re-entry court program. James said he will never make the same mistakes again.
"This is my first time being incarcerated and will be my last," James said. "For the most part, I'm glad I got to experience this at a younger age. A lot of the stuff that I did wasn't because of an addiction or habits, it was hanging around the wrong crowds. After this experience I've made the decision to separate myself from certain people and environments."
James said he plans to dedicate time giving back to the community and speaking to youngsters about the importance of staying out of trouble.
"It does show some people are most deserving of second chances," White said. "We rely on the business community and the business community has stepped forward to hire these ex-offenders."