Lawrence Bartley grew up in a dangerous part of New York City called Jamaica, Queens. He grew up during a period where the streets of New York City weren’t safe. He lived in an urban ghetto, where sneakers hung from telephone lines, drug paraphernalia littered the streets, and every apartment building on every block was in severe disrepair.
As a teenager, Lawrence had a dream of getting out of the ghetto and living a better life than the one that he grew up in. Unfortunately, where he grew up, life changes like this weren’t common. He started hustling and doing whatever he could for a chance at a better future. He didn’t care if his methods were legal or not. He just wanted to find a way out of the ghetto.
One day when Lawrence was just a teenager, he was sitting near the intersection of 150th Street and 89th Avenue when a motorcycle pulled up to the corner near where he was sitting. The person on the back of the bike pulled out a gun, and before he could react, Lawrence was shot four times. It was a miracle, but Lawrence survived. He spent a while in the hospital, and it took him a while to recover, but he was able to return to his life.
Although Lawrence recovered physically, the shooting took a toll on his mental state. He was always worried that someone would come and shoot him again, and he was always living in fear. To give himself a sense of security, he went out and bought a gun illegally. He carried it with him all the time just in case his assailant returned to finish the job. He also carried the gun to be sure that he would be safe if someone else tried to hurt him.
The Moment That Changed His Life
One day, Lawrence and his friends went to see a movie at the Sunrise Cinemas. When the movie started, a group of teens came into the theater, making a lot of noise. It wasn’t long before tempers flared, and one of the teens in the other group lunged at Lawrence and his friends. Someone pulled out a gun and started firing. Hoping to protect his friends, Lawrence took out his gun and fired one shot. Lawrence quickly left the theater with his friends, and he went home.
Later that evening, Lawrence turned on the news and learned that four people had died in the theater. His bullet hit Tremain Hall, who died a few hours later. Two days later, 17-year-old Lawrence was arrested and charged with Tremain’s murder. He was sentenced to 27 years to life in Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
Life Behind Bars
The transition was difficult for Lawrence at first. He struggled to get used to the tight living quarters, the strict rules, and constant supervision. He also had to get used to having no privacy at all. He knew that he had two options. He could have joined a prison gang and caused more trouble in his life. Instead, he decided to make the most of his time in prison.
During his time in prison, Lawrence earned his Bachelor’s degree and then his Master’s. When he wasn’t studying, he was spending his free time doing community service. He hoped that the work that he was doing on himself would help him to regain his freedom sooner. During his first parole hearing, he was denied. They looked at him as just a man who shot an innocent bystander in a movie theater, so Lawrence wasn’t going home. He was crushed, but he was still determined. In April 2018, after almost 30-years in jail, Lawrence appealed the parole board’s decision, and his parole request was granted.
Life On the Outside
After being in prison for so long, Lawrence had trouble getting used to life on the outside. He was finally in control of his life, and he had to decide what to do next. He wanted to do something positive with the rest of his life, and he got a job with The Marshall Project. It is a nonprofit news organization that focuses on criminal justice issues. He thought that it would be the perfect job for him.
Lawrence started a publication called News Inside, which was a criminal justice magazine for inmates. Since he was an inmate, he knew what they needed. For Lawrence, this was his second chance at life, and he wasn’t going to throw it away. This man released from prison after 27 years makes a bold move that people didn’t suspect. He dedicated his life to helping other people in the same situation he was in.